Instead of contemplating how to strengthen in preparation for a second season in the Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur are now steeling themselves for a summer clear-out while at the same time attempting to hang on to their prized asset Gareth Bale.
Following Tuesday night's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City that confirmed fourth place is beyond their reach, senior figures at the club met yesterday to reassess their current squad in the light of their disappointing end to the season.
Chairman Daniel Levy is determined to keep hold of Bale but will not sanction further spending on new recruits until there has been a clear-out of some other established stars to streamline the first-team squad and reduce the wage bill.
Levy wants to sell several high-profile players, including four who are currently out on loan – striker Robbie Keane, who is at West Ham, and midfielders Jamie O'Hara (at Wolverhampton Wanderers), Giovani dos Santos (at Racing Santander) and David Bentley (at Birmingham City).
Defender Jonathan Woodgate and goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini are both out of contract in the summer and are unlikely to be offered new deals.
Tottenham will also listen to offers for the likes of Roman Pavlyuchenko, Niko Kranjcar, Alan Hutton, Vedran Corluka and Wilson Palacios.
It is all a far cry from just a few months ago, when Tottenham's offer of £35m for Italian striker Giuseppe Rossi was turned down by Villarreal.
Finishing outside the top four in the Premier League will now make it much harder for Tottenham and their manager, Harry Redknapp, to keep hold of Bale, whose performances in Europe this season have made the 21-year-old PFA Player of the Year one of the most wanted prospects in the game, and have seen his value shoot up to around £40m.
Wales manager Gary Speed did not help Tottenham's cause yesterday when he suggested that Bale might be better off leaving White Hart Lane this summer.
Speed, who was appointed Wales manager last December, said: "It's important for all the players to play as high as possible and Champions League football is a place where Gareth has shined this year, and the more you play on the world's biggest stage the better.
"It's down to gut feeling and belief, what you think is best for yourself. Tottenham making it to the Champions League this season would have made that decision easier for him."
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