Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay has warned midfielder Joe Cole the club have a salary budget this summer with regards to new deals.
The former West Ham man, along with vastly-experienced German midfielder Michael Ballack, is out of contract next month and available on a free transfer.
The club are keen to thrash out new terms with England international Cole, who has been at the club for the past seven years following his Upton Park switch.
Gourlay insists finalising players' futures is one of the club's top priorities, however, with their aim to be self-sufficient in mind, the Blues will not retain the 29-year-old at all costs.
"We will sit down and talk to Joe Cole at the end of the season, and he knows that," explained Gourlay.
"We will do that with a number of players, but when it comes down to salaries you have to draw the line somewhere.
"Every time we push the wage levels up higher we have somebody else knocking at the door," he continued without naming Cole.
"We've got to make a mark in the sand at some point."