Bernabeu enforcer’s wage demands means White Hart Lane club have to sell.
Tottenham Hotspur can only sign Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra if Stoke City buy Wilson Palacios.
Spurs have held talks with Diarra, 26, but his wage demands appear likely to scupper any deal.
Manager Harry Redknapp signed the France international for Portsmouth in January 2008 and has made previous efforts to bring him to White Hart Lane.
Tottenham have agreed a £12million fee with the La Liga giants, who are keen to generate the funds to launch their own transfer spending.
But Spurs’ rigid wage structure means they cannot afford to pay Diarra’s high wages until they offload their fringe players.
The north Londoners will listen to offers for Jermaine Jenas, but the deal closest to completion is Stoke’s £10million bid for Wilson Palacios.
But the Honduras international’s high wages are also putting pay to any move leaving all three clubs in limbo.
Redknapp has also been pursuing West Ham’s Scott Parker, but wages could also prove a problem in the case of the Football Writer’s Player of the Year.