HASSAN KACHLOUL was today bracing himself for the news which could herald his departure from The Dell.

Saints have pledged to make him a new contract offer within the next 24 hours but if it does not go close to what he wants then the midfielder will quit the club either now or at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent.

Freedom of contract will give him the bargaining power to quadruple his current salary which was agreed when he was still trying to prove himself in the Premiership.

Chairman Rupert Lowe insists he will not jeopardise the club's future by breaking their carefully managed wage structure and has said the Moroccan will have to go if he wants to get the kind of figures he is looking for.

It is even possible that Saturday's goalless draw at Tottenham may prove to be Kachloul's final game in red and white stripes with Ipswich and, ironically, Spurs ready to pounce.

But the midfielder is still hoping that the impending offer will give enough scope to enable him to stay at Southampton.

He said: "I hope I am wrong but I think I know the kind of money they will offer me and I know what other clubs will pay.

"If Saints get close then I am prepared to negotiate because I like it here and do not want to leave. But if they are a long way short then I will probably be on my way.

"However I don't want to pre-judge anything. I want to hear what they have to say today or tomorrow and I hope we will be able to talk."

Ipswich agreed a fee of £1.8 million at the start of the season and indicated then they would be prepared to go close to what he is asking, which is believed to be around £20,000 a week.

The Tractor Boys are still keen to take him but Spurs would have even more sway, although manager George Graham has been told his hands are tied in the transfer market until ENIC's takeover is completed at White Hart Lane in about three weeks' time.

If Kachloul turns down the offer, Saints will surely try to get what they can for him now rather than risk losing him for nothing at the end of the season.

Lowe said: "We try to be very fair with everyone but we cannot pay what he is asking. We will make him an offer which we consider reasonable and then it is up to him if he wants to accept.

"If he likes Southampton and wants to play here then we will be delighted to have him. But if he wants that kind of money he will have to get it elsewhere."