Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes accepts losing his best players is sometimes the price he has to pay for success at Pittodrie.
Midfield trio Kenny McLean, Jonny Hayes and Ryan Jack have been key Dons players for McInnes who have moved on to new clubs in recent seasons.
The Aberdeen support face an anxious wait over the January transfer window to find out if any new bids are tabled for central defender Scott McKenna with Aston Villa, Hull City and Celtic all having offers for the 22-year-old rejected last year.
Dons captain Graeme Shinnie and winger Gary Mackay-Steven are also free to speak to other clubs after entering the final six months of their contracts.
McInnes hopes to keep all three at Pittodrie but knows the club must always be ready to find replacements should players depart.
He said: “If a team is doing well then, over a period of time, the key players who are prominent may move on. I feel we will always lose players as a consequence of that.
“It is about having the coping mechanisms and structures to deal with that and to keep them as long as possible by creating an environment that means they don’t want to leave.
“I think if you were to ask any of my players who have left, if they could have got the same financial rewards here then they wouldn’t have wanted to move.
“I totally understand, especially as there are clubs in Scotland that can pay a lot more and
we are on the border of the richest league in the world. It is always a challenge to keep your best players with you.
“While I’m not happy about it, there is no point feeling sorry for yourself. We just have to deal with that.”
Shinnie and Mackay-Steven have been offered new deals to remain at Pittodrie but McInnes says he won’t issue them with a deadline to commit to the club.
He added: “I tried that a few years ago but deadlines don’t work for me. The players are well within their rights to take as long as they want.
“In terms of my forward-planning and what we are going to be working with this season and beyond, it would help me no end if we got some clarity on that quicker.
“They don’t need to wait, if they tell me today they want to stay they can. In an ideal world that will be the case and I’m hopeful that can be the case.”