Alan Pardew, the Newcastle United manager, believes only Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson can say with confidence that their players are not for sale next month.
Pardew, who saw striker Andy Carroll leave Tyneside in January when Liverpool finally broke the Magpies' resolve to hang on to him with a cheque for £35m, is gearing up for a battle to hang on to similarly coveted midfielder Cheik Tioté this time.
The manager, who had only been in the job a few weeks when the last winter window opened, spent much of January insisting Carroll would not be sold, only for Liverpool to finally get their man at the death, much to the disappointment of the club's fans.
This time, it is Ivory Coast international Tioté who is reportedly attracting the interest of Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham, and Pardew knows any decision could be taken out of his hands by another massive bid.
Asked if any manager could say a player was simply not for sale, he said: "Mancini could probably say that and possibly Alex Ferguson, but no-one else. I hate the window. All managers are the same. We could lose players to Champions League teams, so you are on your guard. Players start manoeuvring and agents – it's not nice."
However, Pardew insisted it would take a huge offer to persuade the club to part with any of their big names. Captain Fabricio Coloccini and fellow defender Danny Simpson are yet to sign new contracts. He said: "You never know with the window. It's such a minefield. We have one or two players here that top clubs will be interested in."
Asked specifically about Tioté, who is touch and go to return from a knee injury against Swansea tomorrow after almost two months on the sidelines, Pardew said: "He's a big target because he's a great player, and great players are going to be targets."
Newcastle handed the 25-year-old a new six-and-a-half-year contract in February after a stunning start to English football following a £3.5m summer switch from the Dutch side FC Twente.
Meanwhile, Pardew was remaining tight-lipped on reports that Sochaux striker Modibo Maiga will join the club next month – although it is understood that is the case – but confirmed that there would be at least one new arrival.