Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard admits he is fearful a below-par season could see a host of top players leave Goodison Park.
Despite clawing their way back to seventh, just one place behind Liverpool, the second half of the season has been one of damage limitation and Howard believes their position could leave Everton exposed to the Premier League giants circling the likes of Jack Rodwell, Marouane Fellaini and Mikel Arteta.
"That is always a concern. No one likes to talk about that, but football is a business, so it's a concern," said Howard.
"We lost Steven Pienaar in January, one of our best players, to what he felt were greener pastures.
"I know we would like to keep all the guys together and there is a collective belief among the core players at the club.
"You would hope that would ultimately trump the business side of football, but that's easier said than done."
Despite a precarious period staring the relegation zone in the face earlier in the season, the Toffees are within four points of a sixth-place finish.
Ahead of a lunchtime kick-off at Wolves on Saturday, Howard admits that the club have missed a frustrating number of chances to take three points.
"Four weeks ago we couldn't have even dreamed of looking at sixth, because we were down near the bottom and looking over our shoulder," he added.
"We've done a good job to put a few results together and to move forward, but we still have a feeling of total frustration.
"There have been so many points there for the taking. We could have been in the reckoning and it's a shame we are talking about 'what ifs?'
"We're not Man City who can field two top teams and when we take a few injuries that can set us back, but that's no excuse. We have quality front to back in our squad and we all need to do better."