Mousa Dembele has cast fresh doubt over his future with Tottenham after revealing his intent to refuse a new contract before the World Cup, as he conceded this could be his last season with the club.
The 30-year-old is a linchpin in Mauricio Pochettino's side - who is desperate to keep hold of his star player - and after a series of impressive performances this term Dembele has attracted interest from a host of European powerhouses.
The Belgian international will have a year remaining on his contract come the end of the campaign, and although he has not ruled out signing a new deal with Spurs, the 30-year-old has admitted to leaving the door open for an exit in the summer.
Dembele told Belgian outlet La Derniere Heure, via the Telegraph: “We have not really talked about an extension of my contract.
“At the beginning of the season, I said ‘I had physical problems, I want to see at the end of the season how I feel’. That’s what the club and I decided by mutual agreement.
“If we talk about a new contract in the middle of the season, it will cost energy. Imagine that a player feels not appreciated after a disappointing proposal, it can disrupt his game.
“At this moment, I am very happy at Tottenham. I do not lie when I say that I do not think about a big transfer. I want to play a World Cup and afterwards we will see.
“Really, I’m not aware of the interest of other clubs. And, besides, I told my agent to wait for the summer to tell me about any offers. For now, I’m only focusing on Tottenham. Maybe this is my last season. Or maybe I’ll sign a new deal. We’ll see.”
With Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy running a tight ship, players will only be allowed to leave the club with Pochettino's blessing - regardless of their contract situations.
While defender Toby Alderweireld looks increasingly likely to move in the summer following a long drawn out contract saga, Spurs are less willing to see the back of Dembele, but his age and injury record are said to ensure contract negotiations are far from straightforward.
A new contract for the 30-year-old is expected to be his last chance at a lucrative deal but Dembele is also eager to add more winners medals to his career tally before he calls it a day, adding yet another layer to future negotiations.
With the summer transfer window fast approaching, Tottenham are said to be keeping an eye on Italy midfielder Bryan Cristante, who is currently on loan at Atalanta from Benfica.