The 10 Worst Serie A Managerial Appointments of the Past Decade – Ranked

Filippo Inzaghi
Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Serie A clubs have something of a reputation for chopping and changing managers. Indeed, in this season alone, ten clubs have opted to make a change in the dugout, with two of those clubs (Brescia and Genoa) having three separate managers.

So the argument might be that these clubs aren’t giving their managers enough time to impose their philosophy on their new squads, and those arguments are probably justifiable. However, we’re not here to discuss whether these managers should’ve been given more of chance, we’re here to discuss how badly these managers performed, regardless of whether one thinks they should’ve been given more time.

Eusebio Di FrancescoEusebio Di Francesco
Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

In truth, Eusebio Di Francesco could’ve landed himself a better job than Sampdoria.

Coming off the back of a unfair sacking at Roma (less than a year after leading them to the Champions League semi-finals), Di Francesco was appointed as manager of Sampdoria. A solid top-half side, but one that was never realistically going to challenge for a European place. On the surface, it was a coup, a shrewd appointment, but it would turn to be anything but.

Di Francesco lost six of the seven league games he had in charge of I Blucerchiati and were rock bottom of Serie A when he was finally sacked. Ironically, it was Claudio Ranieri, the man who replaced him at Roma, who replaced him at Sampdoria too.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

A former youth coach at Inter, Andrea Stramaccioni was initially appointed as caretaker manager at San Siro towards the end of 2011/12. He led them from eighth place to sixth place, and he was confirmed as I Nerazzurri’s permanent manager for the following season.

What followed was nothing short of a disaster. A solid start to the season left them in third at Christmas, but a poor second half of the season (they lost ten out of a possible 19 games) meant they finished in ninth place. The result of this was that Inter had failed to qualify for a European competition for the first time in 15 seasons.

Safe to say, Stramaccioni was sacked, and he’s become something a journeyman since, managing clubs in Greece, the Czech Republic and Iran.

Marco GiampaoloMarco Giampaolo
Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Reflecting back on this appointment, it was pretty strange one. Marco Giampaolo had been manager of Sampdoria, leading them to top-half finishes for three consecutive seasons before Milan came calling. A talented manager, sure, but one who could arrest I Rossoneri’s decline?

It didn’t seem like the two really fit – Giampaolo was a journeyman manager, who, just four years earlier, had been managing Serie C side Cremonese and Milan were a club hoping to break back into the top four.

This odd pairing became quite evident as Milan started playing matches. I Rossoneri seemed bereft of creativity and energy, struggling to score goals. By the time Giampaolo was sacked, Milan had lost four of their seven opening games, and sat in 13th place.

Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Following a disastrous year in charge of the Italian national team, in which he failed to ensure their qualification to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, Gian Piero Ventura was public enemy number one in Italy.

Chievo were able to look past that when they appointed him as their new coach in October 2018. I Gialloblu were in last place at the time, and they would’ve been hoping that Ventura – who had a decent record in the Italian top flight – could rescue their season.

Instead, he plunged them into more chaos. He was in charge for just four matches, of which he lost three and drew one, before resigning. Chievo were relegated at the end of the season and Ventura is now in charge of Serie B outfit Salernitana.

Luigi Del NeriLuigi Del Neri
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

An experienced coach, Luigi Delneri was selected to manage Juventus in May 2010, following a successful campaign at Sampdoria in which he led to them into the Champions League places.

It would turn out to be misguided appointment. They would draw every game in their Europa League group, failing to qualify to for the next round, and finished seventh in Serie A, meaning they didn’t qualify for Europe for the following season.

Delneri was sacked after just one season, and the Juventus board gambled on Antonio Conte, who would subsequently lead them to three consecutive Scudetti.

Filippo InzaghiFilippo Inzaghi
Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

At the time of Filippo Inzaghi’s appointment in 2014, Milan were already in decline. They had finished eighth the previous season, and their choice to appoint Inzaghi, who had only had spells in charge of Milan’s youth teams, seemed a big risk.

It was a risk that didn’t pay off. I Rossoneri finished the season in tenth place, their lowest position since 1998. Inzaghi was not retained for the following season, being replaced by Sinisa Mihajlovic, who didn’t fare much better.

Inzaghi seems to have resurrected his managerial career, however. His current team, Benevento, are top of the Serie B table by a margin of 20 points.

Alberto MalesaniAlberto Malesani
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Something of a cult figure due to his successful time at Parma and a notorious press conference he gave while in charge of Panathinaikos, Alberto Malesani was an experienced Serie A coach who was brought in rescue the relegation threatened Sassuolo in January 2014.

I Neroverdi were 18th when Malesani took charge. Five matches and five defeats later, Sassuolo were bottom of the table, four points away from safety, and Malesani was dismissed.

Eusebio Di Francesco would be re-appointed as Sassuolo coach, saving them from relegation and leading them to Europa League qualification two years later. Malesani, meanwhile, hasn’t managed another club since.

Frank de BoerFrank de Boer
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

It’s easy to say in retrospect, but Frank de Boer was always an odd choice for Inter.

He had spent six years in charge of Ajax, leading them to four Eredivisie titles. Prior to his appointment at Inter in August 2016, however, he hadn’t won a trophy for two years. De Boer managed just 11 league matches at I Nerazzurri, and were 12th in the league at the time of his dismissal in November.

De Boer would go on to have a forgettable five-match spell with Crystal Palace and now finds himself in charge of MLS side Atlanta United.

Vincenzo MontellaVincenzo Montella
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

It seemed like the perfect appointment at the time. Vincenzo Montella previously had a successful three-year spell at Fiorentina between 2012 and 2015, finishing fourth in each of the seasons he had in charge, and would subsequently turn out to be one of the best managers Milan have had in recent years.

He returned to Fiorentina in April 2019 with a reputation and destroyed it in less than a year. Brought in with seven games to go in 2018/19, Montella failed to win a single game and Fiorentina, who were tenth in April, ended up finishing in 16th place, only surviving relegation on the final day of the season.

A new owner came before the start of 2019/20 and decided to keep the faith in Montella. He performed slightly better, but was sacked just before Christmas with Fiorentina in 15th place.

FC Internazionale v Atalanta BC - Serie AFC Internazionale v Atalanta BC - Serie A
MB Media/Getty Images

For context, Inter had won the Champions League a little over a year before Gian Piero Gasperini’s appointment in June 2011.

It was an odd choice from Inter owner Massimo Moratti. He had a successful spell in charge of Genoa, but didn’t quite have the calibre to manage one of the biggest teams in the world. Gasperini lasted just five games, losing four and drawing one, before his sacking in September, with I Nerazzurri in the relegation zone.

Gasperini is now in charge of Atalanta, where he has become, arguably, the greatest manager in Serie A. In his time in Bergamo, he has taken his side from mid-table nobodies to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.


Arthur Melo Rebuffs Juventus Interest Amid Miralem Pjanic Swap Rumours

Arthur Melo
Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona – La Liga | David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona midfielder Arthur Melo is said to have dismissed any potential move to Juventus, informing his current club Barcelona that he wishes to stay beyond this summer.

The 23-year-old had been linked with a move to the Italian giants who are looking to add some youth to their ageing midfield.

Arthur left his home country of Brazil to sign with La Blaugrana in a deal worth £27m in 2018, but has been linked with a move away this summer in order for Barcelona to facilitate new signings.


Sky Sports report that a swap deal involving himself and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic had been explored, but Arthur is not keen on a move away and has expressed his desire to stay in Spain.

Barcelona have been linked with moves for a number of players including Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, but the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic combined with their large squad means that some funds need to be raised by the sales of several first team players.

Sky Sports also reported that Arthur had been discussed in discussions between Barca and Inter over the transfer of Martinez, but again the Brazilian was not interested in a move away from the Nou Camp.

The midfielder has struggled to cement his place in the starting XI at the Catalan club this season, making just 23 appearances in all competitions. He has managed four goals and four assists, however, as he fights to prove his worth in Quique Setien’s side.

Arthur MeloArthur Melo
FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad – La Liga | Eric Alonso/MB Media/Getty Images

With Bayern Munich deciding not to make Philippe Coutinho’s signature permanent, Barcelona face another difficult task in resolving the future of their £130m signing, which looks to be away from Catalunya.

Barca will hope that the global pandemic doesn’t affect transfer business too significantly so that they can offload their players in order to bring in some new star power and challenge on domestic and European fronts next season.


Sandro Tonali Is the Dream – But Juventus Fans Should Embrace the Brilliant Reality of Rodrigo Bentancur

Rodrigo Bentancur
Daniele Badolato – Juventus FC/Getty Images

‘Sandro Tonali is the new Andrea Pirlo!’

‘He’s the patron saint of passing a football!!’

‘He’s like a mix between Fergie and Jesus!!!’

These are just some of the Twitter replies you’ll see (usually in Italian, mind you) to a ‘Sandro Tonali Set for MEGA MONEY Move to Juventus‘ (also usually in Italian) article from Tuttosport, Gazzetta dello Sport and/or Corriere dello Sport.

Sandro TonaliSandro Tonali
Sandro Tonali | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

So no, it’s not an exaggeration to say that literally every time ‘Juventus’ and ‘Tonali’ are mentioned in the same breath, Juventini the world over collectively blow their top.

And yes, due to the blowing of collective tops (pre-watershed thoughts people) it’s pretty clear that Juventus fans want their club to sign Tonali. For many, he’s the answer to the midfield conundrum which has dogged the club ever since the quartet of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio was broken up, because:

A) He is the spitting image of a quarter of that midfield – Pirlo…obviously…he doesn’t have a mohawk…or Marchisio’s granite cheekbones.

B) He has the same passport as half of that midfield – Italian, like Pirlo and Marchisio, which for Juve fans who take pride in the ItalJuve connection which bred so much success for the club and the Azzurri over the years, is quite important.

C) He infuses the talents of three quarters of that midfield – Tonali has a similar (not quite as good) passing range to Pirlo, a similar will to win to Marchisio, and a similar ability in the tackle (pre-watershed thoughts people) to Vidal.

D) He has something in common with the whole of that midfield – Tonali is better than anything Juventus currently have…

…Or is he?

Genoa CFC v Brescia Calcio - Serie AGenoa CFC v Brescia Calcio - Serie A
Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

As while Juventus fans have gawked over every Tonali YouTube compilation, social clip, etc. throughout the last 12 months, a Juventus midfielder has quietly developing into one of the very best on the peninsula. And you know who I’m on about, his name is in the title: it’s Rodrigo Bentancur.

Signed quietly while Carlos Tevez was loudly on his way from Juventus to Boca Juniors, the move to bring in Bentancur was seen by many as a shrewd one, but not an inspired one. ‘One for the future’, ‘nice pick-up for the squad’, ‘good deputy to Miralem Pjanic’ were the prevailing sentiments from Juventini as the lanky Uruguayan landed in Turin.

AFP Contributor/Getty Images

And for the first two seasons of his Bianconeri career, these sentiments proved to be more than justifiable. Bentancur remained below Pjanic in the pecking order, and when he did play, he put in merely commendable performances, usually playing the ball sideways and recycling possession instead of making the most of it.

But this season, something’s changed.

After flirting with mediocrity for a few seasons, Pjanic has become downright mediocre (as you can probably tell by the fact that Juve would literally swap him for a Flump and a pack of Monster Munch this summer), and Bentancur has stepped up to take his place at the heart of the midfield.

With the backing of Maurizio Sarri at said heart of Juve’s midfield, the Uruguayan has become a much more progressive footballer – one with the confidence to make the most of his time on the ball. Rather than simply recycling possession, throughout 2020 the youngster has been willing to go for that killer pass, to make that killer burst into the final third, and become a genuine match-winner for the club.

Rodrigo BentancurRodrigo Bentancur
Rodrigo Bentancur | Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

That’s exactly what he has become.

This season, in Serie A alone, the 22-year-old has assisted six goals – more than any other player at the club…more than Sandro Tonali too. And that’s an even more remarkable stat when you consider that prior to the 2019/20 season, Bentancur had assisted just six goals ever.

None of this is to say that, if given the opportunity, Juventus should opt against signing Sandro Tonali. Obviously it’s not – Tonali is clearly an astonishing gifted young footballer. But with COVID-19 possibly putting a halt to most of Juve’s transfer plans for the summer – especially ones involving huge transfer fees – maybe it’s time for Juventini to finally see Bentancur for what he actually is: the new leader of their club’s midfield.


Assessing 24 of the Biggest Swap Deals in Football History

Inter Milan's Cameroonian forward Samuel
Inter Milan’s Cameroonian forward Samuel | CHRISTOPHE SIMON/Getty Images

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the finances of every football club, it seems likely that we will see more swap deals take place in the upcoming transfer window.

And while they aren’t a common occurrence in past windows, you can still find examples of clubs looking to save money by offloading one player to sign another. It adds another element of drama to the already crazy art of negotiating moves for players, while becoming a source of entertainment of its own, as fans debate and argue over who got the better deal.

With that all said, here’s a list of the biggest and most famous swap deals that have taken place in the history of football, with an assessment on each transfer.

Peter OdemwingiePeter Odemwingie
Odemwingie scored all of his five goals for the Potters in one half-season | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

We begin with the swap deal you’ve probably forgotten, unless you’re a Stoke or Cardiff fan. It’s fair to say that neither player had quite the impact their clubs were hoping for.

While Odemwingie started off well with five goals in his first 15 games, injuries led to a diminished role for the Nigerian at the Potters. As for Jones, he failed to help the Bluebirds avoid relegation from the top flight. The striker did end up Cardiff’s top-scorer for the next season, but was soon shipped out for loan spells elsewhere.

Winner: Cardiff

UEFA Champions League"Paris St Germain v Galatasaray AS"UEFA Champions League"Paris St Germain v Galatasaray AS"
Muslera has played 365 games for Cimbom to date | ANP Sport/Getty Images

It’s rare for a swap deal to take place between two teams of different countries. But that’s what happened when Lazio arranged for Muslera’s departure to Turkey in exchange for bringing Cana to the Stadio Olimpico.

And despite the Albanian midfielder doing well in Serie A, Muslera ended up being a terrific signing for Cimbom. Still the first-choice stopper today, he’s won 14 trophies during his time at the club, and was voted the country’s footballer of the year in 2016.

Winner: Galatasaray

Yes, you read that correctly. Palace legend Ian Wright was swapped for a couple of gym weights and a bag of footballs.

Having been scouted by the Eagles, they offered to hand the non-league side gym weights and balls in exchange for the player. The England international ended up scoring 118 goals for the south London club, and was voted their Player of the Century. As for the gym weights and footballs, we’ve no idea what happened to them…

Winner: Crystal Palace

Peter CrouchPeter Crouch
Crouch played just six games for the Clarets before retiring | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

There was excitement in the air on deadline day of the 2019 January window. No, not because Lazar Marković was headed to Fulham.

Rather, the big move was when Crouch and cash were exchanged by Stoke for the Burnley striker Vokes. In hindsight, neither side really won the deal – Crouchy retired months after the deal, while his Welsh counterpart has only netted seven times for the Potters. Hard to pick a winner here.

Winner: Burnley (for the £8m)

Fernando TorresFernando Torres
Atléti legend Torres returned to win the Europa League | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

With Torres clearly not in the Rossoneri’s long-term plans, a move away seemed inevitable. Keen to bring him back to Los Rojiblancos, Diego Simeone traded away winger Alessio Cerci to sign the Spaniard on loan.

Despite having previously flourished in Serie A, the Italian scored once in 33 games for the club and now finds himself in Serie B. On the other hand, Torres played another 160 games for Atléti and was able to win the Europa League with his boyhood club.

Winner: Atlético Madrid

James BeattieJames Beattie
Beattie was at his most prolific at the Saints | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Having scored nine league goals in the 1997/98 Premier League season, Davies soon attracted the attention of Blackburn, who went on to send both youngster Beattie and £7.5m to the south coast in exchange for the forward.

Yet the move backfired on the Lancashire club, as Davies ended up scoring just twice in two seasons. And while Beattie needed some time to settle in, he eventually assumed the mantle of being the Saints’ star striker, netting 76 goals in 235 games before moving on to Everton.

Winner: Southampton

Jose Antonio ReyesJose Antonio Reyes
José Antonio Reyes scored seven goals in his only season at Los Blancos | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

With Reyes keen for a move back to Spain, Arsenal finally agreed to a loan-swap deal with Real Madrid, sending the winger there and gaining Júlio Baptista in return.

The Brazilian only scored three league goals in his sole season at the Emirates Stadium, and failed to make a major impact for the Gunners. Reyes on the other hand was more regularly used by Los Blancos as they went on to lift the La Liga title that year.

Winner: Real Madrid

Gianpaolo PazziniGianpaolo Pazzini
Pazzini ended up the more prolific of the duo at I Rossoneri | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

With both city rivals struggling to make it work for their Italian strikers, they decided to swap them, albeit with Inter paying an extra £5.5m for Cassano.

Yet the Nerazzurri would find the former Real Madrid forward difficult to work with, despite his seven league goals, with many questioning his fitness and work ethic. Their counterparts, however, managed to get a prolific first season from Pazzini, before his scoring touch began to diminish in later years.

Winner: AC Milan

Gylfi SigurdssonGylfi Sigurdsson
Sigurdsson became a key figure for the Swans | Stu Forster/Getty Images

In what became Mauricio Pochettino’s first signings as Tottenham manager in 2014, Gylfi Sigurðsson was swapped to Swansea in exchange for both Ben Davies and Michel Vorm.

The Icelandic star became the key midfield talisman for the Swans, with his set-pieces and creativity crucial in staying afloat in the Premier League. But considering Davies’ status as the first-choice left-back in north London, Spurs will be happy with the deal they got, given that Vorm has also served as a solid back-up option for Hugo Lloris.

Winner: Tottenham

Man Utd v ValenciaMan Utd v Valencia
Andy Cole’s goals were key to the Red Devils’ success | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It was a major surprise when Sir Alex Ferguson sanctioned the signing of Andy Cole from Newcastle United, with £6m and youngster Keith Gillespie heading in the opposite direction.

But the legendary manager would have the last laugh, as Cole scored 121 goals to help the Red Devils claim five top-flight titles in a hugely successful period. As for the Tynesiders, they weren’t able to challenge their rivals, even though Gillespie ended up becoming a decent winger at St James’ Park.

Winner: Manchester United

Tottenham's Jermain Defoe celebrates aftTottenham's Jermain Defoe celebrates aft
Defoe scored 143 goals in two spells at Spurs | AFP IOPP/Getty Images

Few swap transfers end up working out for both sides. Yet this deal ended up leaving Spurs and West Ham both happy with their respective goalscoring strikers.

Defoe would score 22 goals in his first full season at Spurs, and became the team’s chief marksman up front before he departed for Portsmouth. Meanwhile, Zamora didn’t quite reach the same heights as his predecessor, but was still a key player for the Hammers, helping the club achieve promotion in 2005.

Winner: Tottenham

AC Milan's midfielder Andrea Pirlo celebAC Milan's midfielder Andrea Pirlo celeb
Would you ever consider trading away Andrea Pirlo? | PACO SERINELLI/Getty Images

Inter fans, look away. Here’s a brief summary of how you traded away arguably the best modern Italian footballer to have played to your city rivals.

Having not impressed the Nerazzurri’s management in his 40 appearances, the Andrea Pirlo was sent across the San Siro divide and was swapped for Guglielminpietro, as well as a bit of cash. While Guly only played 30 games for Inter, Pirlo became a star for the Rossoneri and won two Champions League titles. It’s pretty easy to see who won this swap deal.

Winner: AC Milan

Michael OwenMichael Owen
Owen scored 16 goals in his only season at Los Blancos | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

With just a year left on Owen’s deal, Real Madrid capitalised and signed the Englishman, paying just £8m and sending Núñez to Anfield in exchange.

It couldn’t have gone worse for Núñez, who injured his knee in his first day of training and never was able to get into the Reds’ first team from that point onwards.

As for his English counterpart, the striker scored 16 goals in his only season in Spain before moving to Newcastle for £17m, in what became great business for Los Blancos.

Winner: Real Madrid

Bonucci has put a disaster spell at Milan firmly behind himBonucci has put a disaster spell at Milan firmly behind him
Bonucci has put a disaster spell at Milan firmly behind him | Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Having arrived at the San Siro for a €42m fee, Bonucci was a major disappointment for Milan. Given that he wasn’t getting any younger, the club looked for a replacement that could assume his position for the future.

Hence, the veteran was swapped back to former club Juventus for youngster Mattia Caldara, with Gonzalo Higuaín also temporarily headed to the Rossoneri. It didn’t work out well at all for Il Diavolo, as the Argentine found himself at Chelsea a few months later. And while Caldara has yet to establish himself for Milan, Bonucci has assumed his role for the Bianconeri without looking out of place. Juve definitely won this deal.

Winner: Juventus

Fabio CannavaroFabio Cannavaro
Cannavaro became crucial to Juve’s defence after the move | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Wait, Inter traded away another Italian great three years after Pirlo?

Failing to excel at the San Siro, Cannavaro was swapped for Juventus goalkeeper Fabián Carini in 2004. The Uruguayan stopper played just four games for the Neruzzurri, while the legendary defender would win two Scudetti (before the club was stripped of their titles). Still, the Bianconeri got a way better return here…

Winner: Juventus

AC Milan's midfielder Clarence Seedorf (AC Milan's midfielder Clarence Seedorf (
Seedorf lifted ten trophies at Milan | PACO SERINELLI/Getty Images

Another swap deal between the Milan clubs saw Seedorf traded to the Rossoneri, in exchange for Francesco Coco who headed to Inter. Once again, the Nerazzurri got the worse end of the deal.

Coco would fail to play regularly due to a string of injuries that curtailed his time at the club. Seedorf, however, became a legend at Milan, winning ten trophies and becoming an essential part of their success under Carlo Ancelotti.

Winner: AC Milan

Roberto CarlosRoberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos claimed Roy Hodgson’s spell at Inter ‘destroyed him’ | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Chilean star Zamorano became a transfer target for many of Europe’s elite, having scored 28 goals to help Real lift the 1994/95 La Liga title. Inter, keen to sign the striker, offered up £1m plus Carlos, who was unhappy with manager Roy Hodgson at the time.

The Nerazzurri forward wasn’t a bad player at the San Siro, but his goalscoring rate began to decrease, as the likes of Ronaldo took his first-team spot. Los Blancos, on the other hand, were delighted to end up with the Brazilian legend Carlos, who ended up playing more than 500 games for the club and was a key part of the successful ‘Galacticos’ era.

Winner: Real Madrid

Luiz would later become a teammate of Matić during both spells at Stamford Bridge | GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

In high demand after impressing at Benfica, Chelsea acted swiftly to acquire Luiz, with then-reserve Matić and £20m being enough to make the deal happen.

The Brazilian played 248 games for the Blues over two spells, while Matić ended up impressing in Portugal, earning him a move back to Stamford Bridge three years after his departure. With the Blues getting the best of the duo on the pitch in England, they ultimately won the deal in the end.

Winner: Chelsea

Diego MilitoDiego Milito
Milito was a goal-scoring machine at Inter | Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

In 2009, Inter, always looking to push the boundaries of player transfers, proceeded to sign Milito and Motta from Genoa, in exchange for a small fee, four players and co-ownership of another youngster.

The two Nerazzurri signings would prove to be instrumental for the club, particularly in the 2009/10 treble-winning season. As for the Genoa quintet, many of them were shipped off to other clubs, including a young Bonucci, who would soon end up at Juventus.

Winner: Inter

Alexis SanchezAlexis Sanchez
Sánchez has not been at his best for the Red Devils | Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Remember when this was said to be a good deal for both teams? Seems like a long time ago now.

As Sánchez’s deal came close to expiring, the Gunners struck a deal with United to send the want-away Chilean north, with Mkhitaryan heading in the opposite direction. Yet neither side have emerged from the deal as the better side, given that both players are now on loan in Italy and don’t seem to have a future at either club.

Winner: Arsenal (for paying the lower wages)

Christian VieriChristian Vieri
Vieri only won one trophy with Inter despite scoring loads of goals | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

A world-record transfer at the time, Inter signing Christian Vieri to partner Ronaldo was a sign of intent and promised a successful era at the San Siro.

But despite the Italian scoring 123 goals during his time at the Nerazzurri, it was only enough to win a single Coppa Italia trophy. Given that Simeone went on to win a league and cup double with the Biancocelesti, as well as the club pocketing a huge fee at the time for Vieri, Lazio were the winners of this swap deal.

Winners: Lazio

Deco helped the Catalans win two La Liga titles and a Champions League | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Having won UEFA’s Club Footballer of the Year in 2004, Deco became a sought-after player for many European clubs. But it was the addition of Quaresma that swung the deal in favour of Barcelona, with Porto happy to obtain the services of the young Portuguese star.

Despite dazzling defences in Portugal for several seasons, Quaresma was unable to perform consistently for the Dragões. His compatriot however continued to shine on a bigger stage and helped the Blaugrana win five trophies, cementing his place as a modern midfield great.

Winner: Barcelona

Ashley ColeAshley Cole
Ashley Cole played over 300 games for the Blues after his move | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

A highly controversial deal at the time, both players were keen to leave their respective clubs and got their wish when the Gunners and Blues came together to agree the swap transfer.

While Gallas was a regular at the Emirates, his time was blemished with various incidents, such as sulking after defeat at Birmingham City. Cole, on the other hand, won nine trophies at Chelsea and was one of the first names on the teamsheet at Stamford Bridge.

Winner: Chelsea

Samuel Eto'oSamuel Eto'o
Eto’o scored plenty of goals to lead Inter to a treble in the 2009/10 season | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Having decided that Eto’o wasn’t going to fit into his system, Pep Guardiola decided to exchange the striker, with cash (and Alexander Hleb until he refused the move) for Ibrahimović in 2009.

The mercurial Swede had a prolific first season at Camp Nou, but wasn’t willing to play out wide to accommodate Lionel Messi and left not long after. Meanwhile, Eto’o ended up having a fantastic two seasons in Italy, scoring 53 goals in just 102 games and leading the Nerazzurri to six trophies.

Winner: Inter


Rolando Mandragora ‘Flattered’ by Napoli Interest as Agent Confirms Buy-Back Clause With Juventus

Rolando Mandragora
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Juventus have an option to re-sign Udinese midfielder Rolando Mandragora, but the player’s agent has confirmed they’re ‘flattered’ after being linked with a summer move to Napoli.

The Italy international ended a two and a half year spell with Juventus in 2018, opting to join Udinese in a €20m deal where he’s gone on to make 63 appearances across all competitions, establishing himself as one of Serie A’s most promising midfielders.

Mandragora is expected to make a big move sooner rather than later, and although Juventus could re-sign him for €26m, the player’s agent says the Italian is ‘flattered’ with recent rumours linking him with a move to Napoli.

Rolando MandragoraRolando Mandragora
TF-Images/Getty Images

“I think there are going to be a lot of interesting opportunities for Mandragora in the next transfer window,” agent Luca De Simone told Radio Kiss Kiss (via Football Italia).

“It’s true that the player went to Udinese for two years with an option to buy that Juventus have at €26m. Obviously, this is only an option and not an obligation. We are not aware of any Napoli interest, but we would certainly be flattered if that were the case.”

Mandragora, who was born in Napoli but spent the majority of his youth career with Genoa, could prove to be a bargain for Juventus if they exercise their buy-back option, although the Serie A champions would need to cut down their squad before making any new additions.

Napoli could be forced to spend slightly over the odds, with CIES Football Observatory valuing Mandragora at €30m, but the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic could have a knock-on effect on his value too.

Mandragora is under contract at Udinese until 2023, so while the Friulani don’t have any pressure to sell on that side of things, they’re among a group of top-flight clubs across Europe who are struggling the most during the coronavirus pandemic.