London - With just over a week to go until the British transfer window closes for four months, several Premier League clubs are steeling themselves to resist raids on their young stars from bigger rivals.
The managers of West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Southampton, to name but three, fear new bids for players they have insisted they want to keep.
And all three have criticised the way the window will still be open four matches into the new Premier League season, which started a week earlier than usual because of next summer's European Championship finals.
Southampton's manager Ronald Koeman described the September 1 deadline as "crazy" and said it should be on Aug 1, before any matches are played.
He is concerned about speculation linking his Senegalese winger Sadio Mane to Manchester United and Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama to Tottenham. After Southampton's 0-0 draw at Watford on Sunday he insisted "nobody is for sale".
One of the problems has been that playing three or four games while the window is still open enables rich clubs to identify weaknesses in their squad, sometimes caused by additional injuries or suspensions.
Tottenham fall into that category and manager Mauricio Pochettino, who was in charge at Southampton before leaving last year, is reported likely to be reunited with Wanyama.
The first three games have also exposed his team's over-dependence on striker Harry Kane and Pochettino confirmed last week he wanted another forward.
Without naming West Bromwich's England Under-21 international Saido Berahino, who is widely believed to be the main target, the Spurs manager said at the weekend that "maybe in the next few days we can strengthen the team a little bit more".
Tottenham's chairman Daniel Levy has a reputation for leaving deals until the last minute and the selling club has little or no time to find a replacement.
Albion have already paid a club record fee for a new striker of their own in Salomon Rondon from Zenit St Petersburg.
The continuing rumours about Berahino, however, have annoyed manager Tony Pulis, who left him out of Sunday's home defeat by Chelsea.
"Saido's a great lad but this can be disruptive," he said. "There's loads of things going on and there's people saying things and doing things.
"It's the transfer window that causes the problem. There are still seven days to go. The kid shouldn't have this problem. Nobody should. The season has started."
Everton have been aware for some time of Chelsea's interest in young England defender John Stones, which is likely to have increased after the champions conceded seven goals in their first three games and now have captain and centre-half John Terry suspended following his sending-off at West Bromwich.
Everton's captain Phil Jagielka, who plays alongside the 21-year-old Stones, said in interviews before Sunday's defeat by Manchester City that the present system led to uncertainty and "unsettles people".
"I cannot get my head round why it works the way it does," he added.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez reiterated after the match how keen the club were to keep Stones. But like Pulis, Koeman and others, he faces an uncomfortable wait until 1700 GMT next Tuesday.