Fryers was a former Manchester United defender who was expected to leave Old Trafford for Spurs over the previous summer transfer window. However, for reasons that were never quite known, Fryers left for Belgian club Standard Liège instead of White Hart Lane.
Just five months after making his move to Standard Liège, Fryers is now back in the English Premier League, having signed with Tottenham Hotspur.
And it is that move that has Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson screaming for an inquest from the Football Association into the "blatant manipulation" of the transfer market done by Tottenham. Ferguson was quoted (per Eurosport via Reuters) as saying:
I think it's a blatant manipulation of the rules.
[Tottenham] tried to buy him off us and we'd been looking for a certain figure—they wouldn't pay it but asked if they could take him down there on trial and at that time he was out of contract in June.
He went down on trial. They then said they weren't prepared to pay the money and all of a sudden he signed for Standard Liege.
We knew immediately and suspected that he would return to Tottenham in January and that's happened. It's a (Spurs chairman) Daniel Levy deal. You know, it's his fingerprints all over it. It's the kind of thing we expected he was going to do.
There's nothing we can do about it, but I think that really we should, first of all, register our discontent. I think the league should look into it.
Ferguson is livid with the fact that Tottenham Hotspur have simply outfoxed him in the transfer market—getting the player they wanted for a cheaper price. Sure, they might have had to manipulate the rules a little to do it, but they didn't directly break anything, so surely it's fine, right?
Well, perhaps. It all depends on who you ask.
United say they've broken the rules, Tottenham say they've done nothing wrong—the answer to this all probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Last summer, Fryers was commanding a £6 million compensation fee from the Red Devils—a figure that Spurs did not want to pay, yet they still wanted the defender. According to FIFA regulations, the compensation fee exists in this case because Fryers is under the age of 23 and moving from one English club to another one.
Yet the regulations do not state that the compensation fee has to be as high when the under-23 player is leaving an English club for a non-English club.
Like Standard Liege.
Spurs expected to sign Zeki Fryers in summer but would pay compo to Man United. Signed him today from Liege, who got him for free.......— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) January 3, 2013
@e_z1ya Depends on level you move from and to and the amount of time you have been on a pro contract. Liege will have paid a nominal amount.— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) January 3, 2013
United only received £250,000 in compensation for that fee, only to see Fryers make his way to White Hart Lane five months later, which has essentially meant that they missed out on close to £6 million in compensation money.
So, at that level, Ferguson is completely correct to be upset.
However, there are two things that must be noted here—the first of which being that, despite doing it very sneakily, Tottenham have done nothing wrong.
The North London club have broken no rules or Financial Fair Play agreements, with their only crime being that they have outsmarted Ferguson. Which, other than making the veteran manager look naive and puerile, isn't really a crime at all.
Dan Levy and the Spurs board have been completely transparent about the transfer—willing to discuss specifics with the media (per BBC Sport) and clearly having nothing to hide in their actions.
They cannot, therefore, receive any punishment or reprimand for what has taken place, nor are there seemingly any grounds for a legal investigation by the FA.
Which brings us to the second point here, which is about Ferguson's comments—a seemingly hypocritical gesture from a man who has outfoxed, outsmarted and outplayed various managers and owners for decades now.
I am a fan of Ferguson, but his 'outrage' about this Fryers deal is hypocrisy on a huge level.— Luke Aaron Moore (@lukeymoore) January 4, 2013
The veteran manager is one of the greatest tacticians and minds of the modern game, but he has simply been outsmarted here and reacted poorly. He has reacted like the child who just realized his parents' reverse psychology had tricked him into eating the vegetables he said he would never eat—and he has thrown a tantrum accordingly.
Tottenham have done nothing wrong other than beat Ferguson at his own game of dominating the transfer market and outsmarting your opponents.
Which is no cause for an investigation whatsoever.
What do you make of the Zeki Fryers deal by Tottenham?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre