Manchester United could be about to make a bizarre two-for-one player exchange with Inter Milan, according to calciomercato.it.
The outlet claims that intermediaries are working on a deal that would see Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling join the Nerazzurri, with centre-back Milan Skriniar moving in the opposite direction to Old Trafford.
Inter are desperate to sign Sanchez on a permanent deal and want to resolve the issue in time for him to take part in their Europa League campaign.
As things stand the Chilean would return to Old Trafford after Inter’s round of 16 match with Getafe.
Inter are looking to pay around €10 million (£9m) for Sanchez but United are reportedly holding out for a figure of around €20 million (£18m). This would probably be needed to buy the 31-year-old out of his current £575,000 per week contract, essentially making it a free transfer.
Smalling’s story is similar; he too has impressed in Serie A this season on loan at Roma, but negotiations to sign him on a permanent deal have also reached an impasse. Roma want to loan him for another season with a compulsory €13 million purchase in June but United are holding out for €20 million.
Like Inter, Roma want the issue resolved quickly so that Smalling can play in the Europa League.
Inter are now looking to swoop in and capture Smalling from under Roma’s noses. With Skriniar being offered in exchange for both players, Smalling would offer a like-for-like replacement for the outgoing player but Inter would be securing Sanchez’s services as well without paying any transfer fee.
The deal would also represent excellent business for United, who would be capturing one of the world’s best centre-backs without coughing up any cash whatsoever – except for any compensation due to Sanchez for terminating his contract.
‘For now it is only an idea and will be difficult to achieve, also because Roma can count on a fundamental element: the wishes of the Englishman, whose desire (and that of his family) is to continue living in the Italian capital’, Calciomercato claims.
It certainly would be a complicated deal to pull off, but it does represent an interesting proposition that would suit all parties, except of course Roma.