Neal Ardley fears Bayo Akinfenwa’s AFC Wimbledon contract saga could drag on all summer.
The Beast has a release clause in his contract, signed last summer, which dictated his deal needed to be reviewed if promotion to League One was not achieved in his first season.
Dons boss Ardley has offered him improved terms and Akinfenwa is considering his options while on holiday in the United States this month.
Wimbledon have a busy summer of transfer activity ahead after the manager’s vow to rebuild the squad after falling short in a push for the play-offs last term.
Keeping Akinfenwa remains a top priority but they won’t be held to ransom over excessive wage demands with a seven-player shopping list to find funds for.
“He’s going away and I don’t think anything will happen with that straight away - a long drawn-out process,” Ardley said of the situation.
Bayo Akinfenwa's AFC Wimbledon career in pictures
“We both know where we stand. I know what I’ve got to try and do and we’ll see where that one ends up.
“I’ve got to make sure I spend the club’s money wisely as I can.
“What I’ve got to do is get enough players to make a huge difference to keep us fighting at the right end of the table and then at the end of that, if I can do all of that and then make a very good offer to Akinfenwa to keep him, then that’s what it will be.
“What I can’t do is put all of my money into Akinfenwa and still end up with a team that’s a mid-table team because we haven’t got enough players to score goals.”
Big names are hopping across the pond with Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard following the path trodden by former Manchester United legend David Beckham.
Akinfenwa’s stock is rising in America and the big striker is promoting his Beast Mode On brand this summer while on a tour of the country.
Ardley can’t predict the player’s next move but admits Major League Soccer would suit the style of football Akinfenwa loves to play.
“I don’t know what he’s looking to do,” Ardley added. “He’s the sort of character that you’d think the MLS would suit him and he’d suit them.
“I don’t know what all his plans are in all of that. They are halfway through a season so whether it will come in this season or not is a different kettle of fish.
“Only he knows where his heart really is at the moment. He’s assured me we are his number one option but he’s going to want to make sure the deal is right moving forward.
“He did great last season and he deserved his player of the year award.”