Harry Redknapp has warned Chelsea and Manchester United that they will be wasting their time if they bid for Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric in January.
Tottenham managed to hold on to Modric this summer despite receiving at least three offers for the Croatian, the biggest reported to have been £40million.
Despite pleading to move to Stamford Bridge, Modric remained at White Hart Lane, and he has since gone on to play a big part in helping the club go on the 11-match unbeaten run which has catapulted them to third in the Barclays Premier League.
Reports have suggested that Chelsea will renew their interest in the 26-year-old when the transfer window opens next month as they attempt to kickstart their title challenge, while Modric's creativity would give United the edge that they currently lack in midfield.
Redknapp is currently busy formulating an unlikely title bid of his own, however, and he does not want to undermine it by losing such a key player as Modric, or any of his other stars.
"We won't be selling our best players or anyone we want to keep in January," Redknapp said.
"We are keeping our best players and if anything we will be adding to the squad not selling.
"That's the message from me and the chairman [Daniel Levy]. We won't be weakening this squad.
"If one or two positions open up where fringe players want to go then we will look at that but we are not going to sell our best players or anyone we want to keep."
Redknapp's admission that he could be willing to let a couple of fringe players go is likely to fuel speculation over the likes of Roman Pavlyuchenko, Heurelho Gomes and Sebastien Bassong.
All three want to leave to get more first-team football, and Redknapp has been linked with a number of replacements already.
The Spurs boss would not rule out bids for Bolton defender Gary Cahill or Chelsea's transfer-listed duo Nicolas Anelka and Alex today.
"Alex is good player but he is not a player who we have made enquiries for," Redknapp said.
"I've always been a big fan of Gary Cahill. I have tried to sign him a few times. He is a good signing for somebody if he leaves.
"Anelka is a good player as well. All three are good players. I wouldn't sit here and say I wouldn't be interested in any of them.
"It depends on what happens here."
Tottenham are just two points behind second-place United, who have played one more game than their north London rivals.
The Red Devils, and leaders Manchester City, both suffered embarrassing exits from the Champions League this week and will now take part in the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Redknapp has never hid his dislike of the Europa League and today criticised the format of the competition.
"How can you get knocked out of the Champions League and drop in to the Europa League?" Redknapp said.
"If you are knocked out, you are knocked out. What are you doing going in to another competition?
"If you get knocked out the FA Cup, you don't go in to the semi-final of the Carling Cup do you?
"It's unbelievable. I don't understand it."
Redknapp knows the difficulties of playing in the Europa League having watched his second string struggle in the competition.
Defeats to PAOK Salonika and Rubin Kazan - a side based 450 miles east of Moscow - have left them with only a slender chance of qualification to the knockout stages with one game remaining.
Despite it handing him a good opportunity to give some of his reserves valuable game time, Redknapp feels City and United will find it hard to get to grips with the Europa League.
"It just messes the whole week up really," he said.
"Your whole week is upside down. You play Thursday night, you come back Friday and you play on Sunday. It's just not the way to prepare for a game.
"Half the teams play their reserves and you are going off all around the world to play. It's not ideal.
"It is almost a punishment for them (United and City)."
Tottenham will set a new club record for the Premier League era if they stretch their unbeaten run to 12 matches at Stoke on Sunday.
Gareth Bale (foot) and Jermain Defoe (hamstring) missed training today and are doubtful while Ledley King is unlikely to play as he is struggling with a knee injury.