London: A couple of weeks before the start of the English Premier League season, the country's most exciting player, its most reviled and the linchpin of the England side are involved in emotional and financial tug-of-wars with their clubs.
Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney have been absent from recent pre-season friendlies because they are carrying injuries, are in no state to perform or have been banished from the first team.
Winner of last season's English player of the year awards, Tottenham's Bale has been dazzled by the chance to join Real Madrid, the most decorated of Europe's big clubs.
But his club's chairman, Daniel Levy, has a reputation for playing hardball and Real are almost certainly going to have to break the world transfer record to take the Spurs defender turned winger turned all-round attacking talent to the Bernabeu.
Bale's speed and power, abetted by a hammer shot and a fine dribbling instinct, have been Tottenham's greatest assets in the past two seasons when they narrowly missed out on Champions League football.
The 24-year-old came to international notice during Tottenham's run to the Champions League last eight in 2010/11 and is desperate for more of the same, all but guaranteed at Real.
But, for now, Levy is standing firm with British media suggesting Real may need to cough up 100 million pounds to change his mind, eclipsing the 80 million they paid for Cristiano Ronaldo when he left Manchester United in 2009.
"If you say 100 million I would say that seems a lot... for anything," Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told ESPN.
Champions League football is also behind Suarez's desire to leave Liverpool. But once again during his turbulent spell in England, the Uruguayan is making few friends with his approach to a 40 million-pound bid from Arsenal.
There is confusion about what Suarez was promised when he signed a new deal last year, and what is involved if another club makes an offer for the striker, but if any club deserved to be treated with consideration by their player, it is Liverpool.
They have supported their top scorer, a lightning conductor for trouble during his 2-1/2 years at Anfield, through two major storms - his racist outburst at Manchester United's Patrice Evra and his biting of Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.
He will miss early games in the new season because he is still serving a 10-match ban for the Ivanovic incident. Now Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, after weeks of warm words for his player and denials he wanted to sell him, has had enough after Suarez demanded Liverpool "honour our agreement".
Rodgers denies making any promises about Suarez being allowed to leave, has accused him of "total disrespect" and has banned him from training with the rest of the Liverpool squad.
The eagerness of Bale and Suarez to break contracts they signed just a year ago are wearisomely familiar to clubs and fans up and down the country, but the situation surrounding Rooney also has the potential to cause serious damage to England's most famous club, Manchester United.
Rooney, often referred to as England's only world-class footballer, has been at Old Trafford since 2004 and been instrumental in the club winning five Premier League titles and one Champions League crown.
But United, the defending champions, are in a state of flux and the last thing they want is to lose their talisman striker, with a scoring record of one goal in every two games. The very last thing they want is for Rooney to depart for Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, one of their two main rivals for this season's title.
It is rare for top English players to go from one elite Premier League club to a rival and his exit would be a serious blow to United manager David Moyes.
Moyes is in the very early stages of trying to build a profile at United after taking over from Alex Ferguson following his fellow Scot's 27 years of ruling the Old Trafford roost.
Players and fans used to Ferguson's uncompromising attitude are watching closely to see if Moyes has got what it takes to control an ego-filled dressing room, and particularly Rooney, who has been told he will not be allowed to leave.
Moyes was the teenage Rooney's manager at Everton and frustratingly for the new boss, Rooney's main beef seems to be with Ferguson who remains a major force at United even after retirement.
United have not impressed in pre-season friendlies and whether Rooney stays or goes could have a major influence on the champions' fortunes this season - and whether Moyes is given the time to build an empire to rival Ferguson's.