Fryers issue causes a storm
Published: 28.01.13 / Written by: David Gold
Zeki Fryers is a player few will have heard of before last week, but the young defender is now at the heart of a furious row between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Manchester born and bred youngster has played a handful of games for United, but left the club last summer to move to Standard Liege, having previously spent time training with Tottenham ahead of a possible move.
Instead he went to Belgium, where he has been for half a year, before joining Tottenham during this transfer window. Sir Alex Ferguson claims that the player’s transfer was a blatant manipulation of the transfer market, ensuring Tottenham avoided paying the price United wanted for the player. Tottenham claim that they could not agree a fee for the player last summer and, after the player fell out of the first team plans at Liege after the club’s coach was fired, they moved for him.
What is certain is that Tottenham avoided a couple of million quid in compensation had they signed the player from United directly. Yet it is unclear what exactly can be done. If the player’s move to Liege did not have the ultimate end goal in mind of taking him to Tottenham, it is understandable that the North Londoners would keep an eye on the player. It is plausible to suggest that, having refused to pay a fee they deemed over the odds to take the player from United, Spurs looked again during this transfer window and decided the price now on offer was reasonable, and resurrected their interest.
It is difficult to really tell. FIFA brought in rules a few years ago which prevented a player from playing for three teams during the same season, although he is allowed to be registered with three sides. That was meant to prevent the type of deals Ferguson allege happened here, where one player uses a move to a second side to engineer a profitable second transfer. Yet the way to prevent that seems to be to prevent a player signing for a second club, rather than merely stopping them play.
It is not the first time this has happened. Nicky Shorey and Asmir Begovic, as well as Javier Mascherano, have all got around those regulations in England through the loan system. It is a bit of a confused mess.
What is certain is that the idea that one club speaks to a player before he moves to try and induce a transfer is not exclusive to one club. Manchester United are as guilty as anyone of looking to manipulate the transfer market, and that is the bigger issue here. FIFA need to get control of the market to prevent English sides in particular, the worst offenders at this particular practise, of taking advantage of the transfer system to bring in youngsters from other teams around the continent. Barcelona were aggrieved years ago at the loss of both Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique to Arsenal and Manchester United respectively. Both are now back at the Camp Nou, albeit at considerable expense. It would be useful now if FIFA could step in to clear up this confused mess.