Newcastle United head coach Steve McClaren has told managing director Lee Charnley they must keep Moussa Sissoko.
In a wide-ranging phone-in with BBC Newcastle, McClaren also revealed Fabricio Coloccini "wants to stay" to captain the side.
"We cannot lose Moussa, I know there's a lot of interest but he's under contract," said McClaren, 54.
"On my first day he walked into my office, a specimen of a man. An absolute presence and a great manner. Very professional and low maintenance.
"I've said to Lee Charnley, 'wow, we've got to keep this guy'. I want to build a team around him."
Midfielder Sissoko, 25, joined the Magpies from Toulouse in 2013, signing a six-and-a-half year deal, and was on the scoresheet as the Magpies defeated West Ham on the last day of last season to secure their top-flight status.
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Coloccini, 33, has spent seven years with the Magpies- with four of them as captain - but the Magpies boss reckons he has been "distracted" by links with a move to join former boss Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park.
"He wants to stay here so I am delighted," added the former England manager. "Do I need to change the captain? Why do I need to unsettle everything - he carries on."
Taking calls from Newcastle's suburbs to North Carolina, McClaren added that the club have not made any bid for Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin.
'Owner wants background role'
McClaren's appointment in June arrived after Newcastle had endured a wretched end to the season - with their victory over the Hammers their only win in the last 11 games of the campaign.
The chaotic spell at the club saw owner Mike Ashley give a rare television interview, answering criticism from fans by stating he would not sell the club until it won a trophy or qualified for the Champions League.
"Making his statement before the West Ham game, I think it was a breath of fresh air and shows the ambition," added McClaren, who was sacked by Derby in May.
"He took over the club in a financial mess, it's now stable, so stable in fact that we've spent nearly £40m this summer, which shows his ambition and what we want the club to do.
"I've had numerous owners or chief executives and in Germany I had some who were in the press more than I was. I'm of a mind that one message should come out of the club - the manager's.
"At the present moment our relationship is transparent and the owner wants to be in the background - so be it. As long as the owner backs the club, fantastic."
'Top eight - that's a hard task'
Newcastle's players trained in front of around 14,000 fans in an open session on Tuesday and despite just two wins from seven pre-season games, McClaren was praiseworthy of his players's attitudes ahead of their opener at home to Southampton.
McClaren also reckons they have worked "tirelessly" on improving a defence that was the second-worst in the Premier League last season.
Upon his appointment, the former England coach stated Newcastle "should be winning cups and finishing in the top eight" and though he told BBC Radio Newcastle listeners that he would take cup competitions seriously, he added a top eight finish is "a hard task".
"To win a league you have to win 38 games, to win a cup, six or seven very good games and you can be there," said McClaren, who won the League Cup with Middlesbrough in 2004.
"Winning one was the highlight of my career - an unbelievable feeling. We want that."