Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp believes selling Luka Modric to Chelsea would leave Spurs having to accept being a mid-table team.
Modric has stunned Spurs supporters by declaring he wants to leave White Hart Lane, and will have enraged some by announcing Stamford Bridge as his preferred destination.
The Croatia star's comments came days after Spurs rejected a £22million offer from the Blues - a bid ridiculed by Redknapp.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy on Saturday issued a statement insisting the 25-year-old was not for sale "at any price" to any club.
Redknapp reckons selling Modric would send the wrong message about the club, but has no reason to doubt Levy's word.
He told talkSPORT: "It's a happy thing to have a player like Luka Modric, who has suddenly turned into a £50million, £40million player and everyone wants him.
"We're lucky we've got him and we aren't selling him, that's what the chairman says and that's good enough for me.
"The chairman has made a statement. He can't backtrack on that. He means that - I know he means that. Luka's not going.
"Daniel has made that statement - he can't come out and suddenly sell him. Everyone will go, 'What's the use of listening to what he says?' He can't sell him. He's said he's not going to sell him and that's good enough for me.
"Daniel and Joe Lewis own the club. They're not selling Luka - end of story, as far as I'm concerned.
"It's not easy to keep a player who's not happy but the chairman has said we're not going to sell him so we've got to stand by that now. He can't be saying that and then we sell him.
"If we sell Luka Modric where are we going as a football club? We'll have to accept then that we're a middle-of-the-table team that will finish in the top half next season and really that's not what the chairman wants, it's not what I want. It's not, most importantly, what the fans want.
"You've got to keep your best players. I don't see Liverpool wanting to sell Steven Gerrard or Chelsea wanting to sell Frank Lampard, John Terry or any of their top players. Arsenal don't want to sell [Samir] Nasri so you've got to keep your best players if you want to be successful.
"He's such a great player for us we just don't want to lose him. He's a great guy, top-class boy and obviously his head's been turned a little bit by the fact that he's wanted by all these clubs and he could probably go and get a fantastic contract.
"It's difficult but we certainly don't want to lose him. Daniel's made the statement and I'm sure he's determined to stand by what he's said."
Levy insisted in a statement that he had no intention of caving in to Modric's request, even if Chelsea returned with a mega-money offer.
He said: "I wish to make it absolutely clear, as I have said previously, that none of our key players will be sold this summer.
"We are building a team for the future to consistently play at the highest level and retaining quality players is crucial to that.
"In respect of Luka Modric, we are not prepared to sell, at any price, to Chelsea Football Club or any other club.
"We made our stance on this issue abundantly clear in writing to Chelsea. They chose to ignore it and then subsequently made the offer public."
Chelsea this afternoon branded Levy's claim they had leaked details of their bid for Modric as "nonsense".
The 25-year-old has also stated he would not put in a transfer request, while Levy said: "For the avoidance of any doubt, let me reiterate that we shall not enter into any negotiations whatsoever, with any club, regarding Luka.
"We now consider this matter closed."
The player himself earlier revealed he intended to discuss his future when he returned from holiday, insisting he did not wish to enrage Spurs fans but expressing his desire to chase silverware.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Modric said: "If somebody comes to the club and the offer is good for me and acceptable to them, then I want to leave.
"I want to leave Tottenham as friends. I have enjoyed my time there, but now it is right for me to look at another club.
"I have an arrangement with the chairman. When I signed my new contract, he said that, if another club came to sign me, they would consider the offer.
"I won't ask for a transfer, no. That would be disrespectful. I hope they can reach an agreement that is satisfactory for everyone.
"Chelsea are a big club with an ambitious owner. They have great players and they have ambitions to fight for the title and win the Champions League. I want to stay in London. I am very happy here and so are my family."
Modric said his desire for change was purely a professional one and reiterated his gratitude for Spurs and their followers.
"I don't want to have an argument with Tottenham," he said.
"The supporters have been very good to me and I have enjoyed my time playing for the club, but it is for football that players leave clubs and move.
"It has happened to Tottenham before. It is normal for a player to dream about playing for a bigger club."