St Etienne sporting director Damien Comolli has warned Arsenal they will not get Blaise Matuidi cheaply, after admitting the midfielder is likely to eventually leave the French club.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has previously been linked with the 22-year-old, although he denied making a move for him last summer.
''We never wanted to sell him, he is our captain and a major player for us,'' Comolli said. ''He's done well for us last season but we convinced him to stay. But I'm not being naive, I know it will be difficult to keep him and know he will end up in England or one of the top clubs in Europe.
''Whoever comes for him, it will cost them a lot of money.''
Comolli, speaking at the Leaders In Football summit at Stamford Bridge this week, spoke about the trend of English clubs recruiting youngsters from French clubs.
St Etienne want compensation from Liverpool over Nabil El Zhar's move to Anfield, while Chelsea were banned from registering players for two transfer windows following Gael Kakuta's signing.
''This matter came on the scene recently in England because of Chelsea and Kakuta but it has been going for 10 to 12 years,'' former Tottenham sporting director Comolli added. ''The French clubs have been trying to fight it and go against it.
''Most of the clubs have done it and most of the French clubs have lost one or two players like this. At St Etienne we lost two players to Liverpool like this a few years ago. That is how it is. We can fight to change the rules but I think it is a waste of time because they won't.
''Or you can fight to keep your players. I've got to fight to keep them and give them reassurances to have an opportunity in the first team. I don't think the kids take that into consideration when they sign for a club here in England.
''How many top clubs are going to give an opportunity to kids. I know only one. We then take more risks on the length and finance of contracts.''