Don’t pretend you haven’t thought about it before: If only my country had a player like Player X, we’d go all the way to the finals of International Tournament Y (before inevitably losing to Spain).
Well now’s your chance to get him, because the International Football Transfer Market is open for business. Unlike real world transfers, however, the international market works on the principle of player-for-player swaps; the English populace can’t just take up a collection and go buy Gareth Bale; they’ve got to give up someone for him that would make the trade make sense, some offer Wales would pull the trigger for.
Keep reading for some deals that seem to make sense to me. Remember: The perfect international football deal is one both sides are just a little unhappy with.
United States of America: Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson
England: Leighton Baines
A classic trade: Giving up future potential to fill a need in the present. I’ve seen both Johnson and Hamid tipped as the USA’s successor to Tim Howard, and though I’ve seen both play (though only Johnson in person) I honestly have no idea which one of them is better. However, I am confident that our goalkeeper of the future, whoever it may be, will be better than England’s goalkeeper of the future, whoever that may be. In fact, I bet our third goalkeeper of the future will be better than whoever they have coming down the line. (Who is it, by the way? I’m genuinely curious.) There are a lot of areas in the U.S. squad (i.e. all of them) that don’t measure up to England, but the Yanks take that category.
And since it just so happens that England has two very good players who play the position that has been the U.S.’ weakest point for the last several years, we’ll gladly take their second-stringer, who’s younger and less of a terrible person. I understand some in the England camp might be hesitant to give up the successor to Ashley Cole’s spot, but Baines is one of those players with the misfortune to fall between generations at his position. He’s younger than Cole, but only by four years, which means realistically he might provide his country with a World Cup cycle of dedicated service as Cole’s heir before it’s time to start looking to replace him. He’s the left back of the intervening period, not of the future.
And that predates Robert Green!
Update: I admit I messed up the logic behind this, namely by forgetting that Joe Hart was only 24 (I thought he was the same age as Foster at least, the best of that generation of mediocre keepers.) However, I stand by the trade, because if there’s one country that needs goalkeeping depth, it’s England, where as we all know you only get one mistake as the No. 1 before your career is over.
Portugal: Fabio Coentrao
Argentina: Carlos Tevez
Portugal’s best striker counts that as his second-best position. Argentina has an absurd amount of very talented front-men, but could use help both at left back or on the wings on the other side of Di Maria.
Playing Coentrao further forward would necessitate shifting Di Maria to the right, where he plays for Madrid, but using him at left back — they started Gabriel Heinze there for the World Cup — would give them one of the world’s best left flanks providing service to their remaining forwards.
They give up Tevez because Higuain’s too valuable, and the former’s energy and movement dropping deep can open up spaces for United’s…err…Portugal’s wingers to take advantage of.
England: Adam Johnson
Ghana: Anthony Annan
Despite Fabio Capello’s best efforts and arguments, Gareth Barry’s still not really a holding player. Fortunately, England have a surplus in one area that could prove beneficial to Ghana, crafty wingers with crossing ability.
Ghana refused the initial English offer of Marc Albrighton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joe Cole for Michael Essien. Instead the Black Stars give up their first-choice holding player – the underrated Annan – in exchange for someone to put some width into their attack, Johnson.
Ivory Coast: Chiek Tiote, Lacina Traore
Chile: Mati Fernandez
Ivory Coast need a playmaker so they can stop pretending Yaya Toure is one. Chile need a rock in the center of midfield so their fluid front six isn’t constricted. Tiote is better than Carlos Carmona, but not as good as Fernandez, so Ivory Coast has to add someone else to sweeten the deal. Traore is selected as much for the curiosity factor as anything else. At 6’8”, he’s more than a foot taller than Chile’s current center forward, Humberto Suazo, and he’d be fascinating to watch incorporated into Chile’s 3-3-1-3, with wingers, playmakers, and wingbacks all orbiting around him in the box.
Bosnia: Edin Dzeko
Germany: Players to be named later
The Germans swoop after Dzeko demands a trade to a top 5 team due to Bosnia’s suspension from the international game. Unfortunately for Bosnia, the players named later end up being Jens Lehmann, Michael Ballack, Thomas Hitzlsperger, and Dirk Nowitzki.
Wales: Gareth Bale
Italy: Giampaolo Pazzini, Sebastian Giovinco, Andrea Lazzari
Sell high on your superstar, and to the highest bidder. Bale’s nice to have, but Wales desperately needs some more direct offensive punch after their first four games in European qualifying (admittedly, some of which Bale missed) finished 0-1, 0-1, 1-4, and 0-2. So we’re selling off their biggest asset to get them some firepower from a team that seems to have loads but hasn’t been able to find the right combination of them since 2006 (and even then, they weren’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard). Italy’s accustomed to using just one winger, but giving them a speed merchant like Bale on the other side will stretch the play to keep defenders off the backs of those of their strike force that still remain.
Any excuse to link to this again:
Uruguay: Diego Forlan
Ivory Coast: Didier Drogba
The rarest type of trade, the straight superstar swap. Supposedly in 1947 the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox reached a verbal agreement to trade Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams over drinks. The Red Sox called the deal off the next day, after their owner sobered up and asked for Yogi Berra too.
Both these players have fallen off from their rather staggering 2009-2010 seasons, both are on the wrong side of thirty, but both still have the ability to be big-time contributors to their new teams. Drogba would give Uruguay someone for Luis Suarez to play off of; Forlan would give the Ivory Coast a different dimension to their attack, and his movement and passing could make them less reliant on one player (Never mind that that player is no longer there.) This deal would probably require pumping a couple of drinks into the head of each federation, but once that happens, it’s just crazy enough to get them to agree to it.
Belgium sends Dedryck Boyata to Mexico
Mexico sends Andres Guardado to Sweden
Sweden sends Johan Elmander to Belgium
Mexico’s central defenders are almost all on the wrong side of thirty, and Belgium has a host of young ones, of which Boyata is the youngest, unproven but full of potential. Guardado gives Sweden’s midfield a new dimension, a different style who can provide some balance opposite Sebastian Larsson on the right and do it for the next ten years. The Belgians get Elmander to lead the line for the next two to four years until Romelu Lukaku’s ready to do it, and provide support for him once he is. With all the still young talent the Belgians have in defense — Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Kompany — on the wings and in midfield — Fellaini, Defour, Hazard — they need to start qualifying for tournaments and building their international experience now. Elmander provides an immediate boost.
Got any more ideas? Post them in the comments or tweet them to us @O87minutes.