David Moyes has said that Sunderland will be 'expensive sellers' this summer as the squad goes through significant overhaul.
Premier League rivals are already beginning to jostle for position with a number of Black Cats set for departure.
Eddie Howe, Slaven Bilic, Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce are all interested in signing Jermain Defoe, though a clause in his contract means Sunderland will not get a fee for the 34-year-old.
The likes of Jordan Pickford and Lamine Kone, however, are under long-term contract and Moyes said that they will not be sold on the cheap despite the club's relegation and precarious finances.
Recent accounts showed debt levels at around £110 million, with the club expected to lose around £50 million of revenue in TV money when they drop into the second tier.
Moyes said: "I think if that’s the case [clubs circling] then we’ll have to be expensive sellers. I don’t think it has happened very often here at Sunderland, very few have been sold for a profit, I can think of people like Jordan Henderson off the top of my head. If people come for our players they’ll have to pay the top price."
Moyes has in recent times pointed out that January was the first time in a number of windows that Sunderland have managed to turn a profit, landing an impressive £14 million fee for Dutch left-back Patrick van Aanholt.
Ensuring similar profits are made on current players in the squad will be crucial to covering that significant drop in revenue, and also allowing Moyes to strengthen what will be a threadbare squad by the time loanees and out of contract players depart.
Moyes, however, was keen to stress that there has not yet been contract from any club regarding Jordan Pickford.
He said: "He’s got a contract until 2020, so it would have to be our choice to sell, not Jordan’s or anybody else. We’ve not had any clubs contact at the moment, there’s a lot of speculation but we’ve not had any contact."