Southampton have been warned against selling Jay Rodriguez to Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur as the England international represents the most difficult player remaining at St Mary's.
After enjoying a successful campaign last season, Saints have suffered in the summer transfer window with a number of star players including manager Mauricio Pochettino leaving the south coast.
Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Callum Chambers have all departed the club, while both Morgan Schneiderlin and Rodriguez - who missed the end of last season and the World Cup with a serious knee injury - have been linked with becoming the latest departures.
Both Liverpool and Tottenham are in desperate need of additional forwards, with the Reds having failed to sign Loic Remy while Spurs are short of resources but former Southampton striker Ian Dowie says Rodriguez will be the most difficult to replace.
"I do think he's an outstanding talent Rodriguez," he told Sky Sports News Radio. "I watched him a lot at Burnley where he did really well and he's done outstandingly at Southampton so I think it's a big, big blow.
"When you go an replace a centre forward, you see what centre forwards are going for in the modern market. I think Rodriguez has got the potential to be a very, very good player.
"If he has that intentional pedigree we're yet to see what he looks like a future international. It is very difficult to replace an international centre forward."
Liverpool's pursuit of a new forward has ramped up since a deal for Remy fell through, reportedly due to the Queens Park Rangers forward failing a medical, having yet to sign a replacement for Luis Suarez
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, has confirmed other targets are being explored but the club are running out of time to secure a deal.
As for Tottenham, with Jermain Defoe having moved to FC Toronto the club have wafer-thin resources with Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor – who has endured a disrupted pre-season due to illness – only backed up by Harry Kane.
Tottenham manager Pochettino has already confirmed the club will not delve significantly into the window but has clinched deals for Michel Vorm and Ben Davies from Swansea City.