Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy says the club were unable to sell all the players they wanted to in the summer.
Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose were strongly linked with moves but remain at the club.
Right-back Kieran Tripper was the most high-profile departure, while Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen also left.
“In 90% of instances either a buyer couldn’t be found for a player or the player didn’t wish to join a club that had expressed an interest,” Levy said.
Levy made the comments at a meeting between the club and representatives of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust last week.
In defending manager Mauricio Pochettino and urging fans to get behind the team after their disappointing start to the season, Levy said the north London club had not been able to make as many changes as they wanted.
Levy also said some players who have been at Spurs for a long time wanted to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Pochettino has previously said the uncertainty was part of the reason why his team have found it difficult to replicate last season’s form.
Tottenham are ninth in the Premier League, 13 points behind leaders Liverpool, and have picked up one point from two Champions League games, the last of which was a 7-2 home defeat by Bayern Munich.