Liverpool and Tottenham face a summer of uncertainty after Real Madrid made clear their desire to sign Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale.
The Madrid president, Florentino Perez, is up for re-election, which is always a dangerous time for clubs whose players he wishes Real to be linked with. Marca, the Spanish sports paper often regarded as the unofficial mouthpiece of the club, has already claimed that a four-year deal has been agreed in principle with Suarez, despite no approach being made to Liverpool, who continue to insist that the controversial striker is not for sale.
To do otherwise would risk bringing the price down and the manager, Brendan Rodgers, may regret pointing out earlier that "every player has their price". Suarez's is likely to be at least the £50 million Liverpool received for Fernando Torres from Chelsea 17 months ago.
The player has made clear his desire for a change of environment, blaming the English media for hounding and criticising him. He also hinted that he would consider a move to Real. He is due to miss the first six games of next season while serving the remainder of his ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in April. Liverpool's best hope may now be that whoever takes over from Jose Mourinho at Madrid prefers to sign Napoli's Edinson Cavani.
Tottenham's manager, Andre Villas-Boas, is urging the club to offer a lucrative new contract to Bale. Meanwhile Marca suggested there will be a "lengthy negotiation process" for the Wales international, and that he would need to put in a transfer request if he wanted to leave.
The two Manchester clubs and Chelsea would also be interested if he were to become available, though the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, would regard a move abroad as preferable if Bale insisted on leaving, just as he did when refusing to sell Luka Modric to Chelsea but allowing him to join Madrid. Now the suggestion is that Chelsea may get their man after all, with Mourinho considering bringing the Croatian midfielder with him to Stamford Bridge.
In Mourinho's final game as manager yesterday Madrid beat Osasuna 4-2 at the Bernabeu. Mourinho sent a conciliatory message to Real supporters, saying: "I wish everyone associated with Real Madrid much happiness in the future. I appreciate the support of lots of fans and respect the criticism of others. Once again, a lot of happiness to everyone and, above all, good health."