West Ham United offered Demba Ba a new £50,000-a-week contract plus a £500,000 signing-on fee to commit himself to the Hammers, but instead the striker has evoked a get-out clause linked to the club's relegation.
Owners David Sullivan and David Gold feel let down as they took a huge gamble on Ba, after he failed a medical at Stoke. He also failed a second medical with West Ham before signing for the club in January.
Ba is wanted by Newcastle United, Sunderland and Everton, but all three suitors have been taken aback by the wage demands of the 26-year-old Senegalese striker, although he is willing to take slightly less than the Hammers offered to stay in the Premier League.
New manager Sam Allardyce wanted to keep Ba, but does not feel the same way about Thomas Hitzlsperger.
The German is also able activate a relegation clause in his contract, but Allardyce has done little to persuade the midfielder to stay, which might come as a shock to Hammers fans.
Hitzlsperger joined West Ham on a free transfer from Lazio last summer, on a three-year deal. The 29-year-old German international earns £45,000-a-week and Allardyce wants his wages to use on alternatives such as Nolan, who he feels brings more defensively to the midfield than the German.
With Scott Parker bound for Tottenham Hotspur, Allardyce is looking to recruit one of his old boys, Kevin Nolan, to become the new heart of the Hammers midfield. Although the initial bid for Nolan was rejected by Newcastle, they expect a new offer from the Hammers.
Spurs are red-hot favourites to capture Parker, despite interest from Arsenal. Parker has turned down a move to the Turkish club Fenerbahce.
Allardyce has also made a £1.25 million offer for Blackpool striker DJ Campbell, which also activates a relegation clause allowing him to speak to other clubs, and while both offers have been rejected, the new Hammers manager is keen to recruit both of these players for the start of the new season, though Campbell is reluctant to play in the Championship.
Allardyce wants another of his old boys in Ricardo Gardner, while Matthew Upson, Robert Green, and Carlton Cole are expected to leave as the Hammers continue to strive to reduce the wage bill.