What do Julian Draxler, Angel di Maria, James Rodriguez, Martin Odegaard, Lucas Vazquez, Brahim Diaz, Douglas Costa, Miralem Pjanic, Alex Sandro, Aaron Ramsey, Federico Bernardeschi, Gonzalo Higuain and Adrien Rabiot have in common?
The answer is that they have all reportedly been offered to Manchester United in exchange for Paul Pogba by Paris St Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus.
Of course, not all transfer rumours are true – far from it – but if even the smallest of fires is causing all this smoke, it is evidence of a new world of football transfers and one in which, in Pogba, United have got one of the rarest and greatest of swaps to trade.
Maybe swap deals will be the way to go for the foreseeable future, but Pogba’s suitors have to come to the table with something a lot more interesting than these options so far. If you are only willing to offer players you are happy to let go, then the chances are United won’t want them any more than you do. The list is littered with players who are close to or the wrong side of 30 (Pjanic, Higuain, Costa and Sandro), not good enough (Di Maria, Rodriguez, Diaz, Rabiot), injury prone (Vasquez, Ramsey) or just not that exciting (Draxler).
The only remotely interesting names on the list are Bernardeschi and Odegaard, but are they good enough for United and do they fit the profile?
When you are standing in the school playground trying to get that kid’s prized possession, you have to sacrifice some of your cool stuff if you expect to get theirs. That’s what PSG, Real and Juve need to learn now. Don’t waste United’s time with your cast-offs. Come with something we might want, that would hurt you to lose.
Last summer The Independent reported that United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward rejected a swap offer from PSG of Neymar for Pogba. Woodward wanted to keep Pogba and Neymar’s wages were too high, the report said. But fair play to PSG, though, that was a decent swap deal worth considering.
Each of those teams have players that would surely interest United. Juve’s Matthijs de Ligt would be tempting, for example. Casemiro, Varane or Valverde would be interesting offers from Real. And from PSG, Verratti is the obvious choice.
Of course, Paul Pogba on top form, motivated to play for United and settled at Old Trafford might still be preferable to any of those swap options. But at least they would feel like some compensation if the Frenchman really does have his heart set on leaving.
United might have to finish their Premier League season at neutral grounds as the authorities try to ensure player safety. How much do you know about those neither-home-nor-away games the Red Devils have played in the past? Take our quiz below to find out.