Aberdeen director of football Steven Gunn says efforts were made to try keep young prospect Ethan Ross at Pittodrie.
Ross is currently a free agent after turning down the chance to extend his stay with the Dons.
The 19-year-old made 14 appearances for the first-team and showed glimpses of his talent while on loan with Raith Rovers and Dunfermline Athletic.
Ross has reportedly attracted interest from English sides Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland and, while disappointed to lose one of their own talents, Gunn insists the club made efforts to retain him.
Gunn said: “I wouldn’t say it’s (Ross’ contract) been allowed to run out. When there’s a dialogue with players and their agents there needs to be a willingness from the other side.
“One thing we’ve set out to do is ensure we’ve got that pathway for young talent getting into the first-team. We’ve demonstrated in the short time Stephen has been in post he’s a manager that’s willing to give young players the opportunity, when they earn it.
“We think that’s an opportunity that might have been there for Ethan and certainly others. But we respect players’ decisions to look elsewhere for their opportunity.”
Manager Stephen Glass had hoped to convince Ross to stay, but the winger informed the Dons last month he would not be returning for pre-season training.
Gunn was asked about the club’s young players in the past whose contracts had run down, when the Dons were not able to get as great a financial return as they would have hoped. Specific reference was made to Ryan Fraser, who left for Bournemouth for £400,000 in 2013.
He added: “When you make the comparison with Ryan Fraser, he was established in the team when he decided to leave. That was a lost opportunity there for the club in building a value.
“But we’ve already gave some examples of how we’re not letting that happen with a number of our talent who we think can establish themselves in the team over the next one to two years.
“That braveness of engaging a player early, well before they get into the final year of their contract, it gives us confidence to get those deals over the line, but also gives the player confidence, that we believe in them if we’re willing to give them improved contract when they’ve still got time on their existing contract.
“I think that’s not something we did well enough in the distant past, but something we’re much better at now.”
Scott McKenna was sold for a significant sum to Nottingham Forest last year, while the Dons did manage to recoup some money on Scott Wright before his contract expired.