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Swapsies! Manchester United will give you one Morgan Schneiderlin for one Lassana Diarra

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We take a look at the suggestion that Manchester United might exchange one France international midfielder for another.

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Paris Saint-Germain v Olympique de Marseille - Ligue 1 Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

In which your Busby Babe, as a public service, attempts to understand the weird and wonderful thing that is the transfer rumour mill. Today, a mooted swap between United's Morgan Schneiderlin and Marseille's Lassana "Lass" Diarra!

Who?

Oh, come along. You remember him. Short lad, defensive midfielder, came to England from Le Havre in 2005 and proceeded to put together the possibly unprecedented career path of Chelsea, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Real Madrid.

From Madrid he went off to Russia before heading back to France last season, to Olympique Marseille, where he did pretty well. Well enough to earn a recall to the France squad for Euro 2016 ... until he picked up an injury and was replaced by our very own Morgan Schneiderlin.

And United are interested?

Well, if the papers are to be believed, that particular exchange might be back on the cards. The Telegraph's transfer blog brings us the news that:

according to Foot Mercato, Schneiderlin could be used as a makeweight in a deal to sign 31-year-old defensive midfielder Lassana Diarra from Marseille.

No, we have no idea who Foot Mercato are. Yes, they sound like a place where you might buy feet. No, we don't want to go to a place where you might buy feet.

Is he any good?

Not sure, frankly. We haven't followed his career with any great attention since he left for Russia, but as noted above, he was good enough last season to earn a recall to the France squad. Mind you, they ended up taking Schneiderlin after an indifferent season, and Moussa Sissoko after he got relegated with Newcastle, so beyond Paul Pogba, the French midfield cup might not runneth over.

Before that, he certainly used to be useful. He didn't play a huge amount for Chelsea, which is why he left for Arsenal; he didn't play much there, either, which is why Harry Redknapp was able to lure him to Portsmouth. But he was excellent at Fratton Park, hence the move to Real Madrid, and he played pretty regularly for his first three-and-a-bit seasons there. So he can't have been total bobbins. He even picked up a La Liga winner's medal in 2011-12.

Why this could happen

One part of the move is already in place: we know that United will be happy to let Schneiderlin leave this January, should an appropriate offer be received.

As for Diarra — still only 31, incidentally — assuming he hasn't reinvented himself as a flying winger, then as a player he sits somewhere between Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick, and so could easily provide cover for both. Jose Mourinho's worked with him before, at both Chelsea and Madrid. Like the Mikel rumours from a few weeks ago, he wouldn't be a particularly exciting addition to the squad. But he could be a useful one.

Looking at the more circumstantial stuff, there have been rumours before, most notably in L'Equipe, which we think is a little more reliable than FootShopper. Also, Diarra hasn't been in favour at Marseille since new manager Rudi Garcia took over in October, and has played just four times since October. Maybe he's rubbish! Maybe he'll be fresh!

And why this won't happen

As suggested, it's a swap deal. And swap deals never happen.

Oh, you want more? Well ... first up, Schneiderlin is by all accounts happy and settled in the north-west of England, which as we all know is much nicer than the south of France. This is why Everton remain "favourites".

Secondly, United appear to be holding out for £20m from all England-based suitors. That might of course include a Premier League premium, but equally, it might not represent the equivalent of a currently out-of-favour 31-year-old. Maybe there'd be a payment in one direction or the other. Who knows. We strongly suspect that these numbers are essentially fictional anyway. If money really exists, why are my pockets empty? Checkmate, global financial system.

Still, though, it's mostly the swap deal thing. They never happen. Too many moving parts.

Transfer rating

As an exchange, we give this zero small glasses of lovely, cheap wine out of ten. Go to Marseille if you never have, by the way. It's a wonderful city.

As a straight transfer, though? Diarra to Old Trafford, Schneiderlin off to SouthEverton Albion? We'll up that to three out of ten. We're still sceptical, but at least it's possible.