Paul Cook insists Wigan Athletic couldn't have done any more to keep hold of Nick Powell - but were unable to compete with the riches on offer from Stoke City.
The 26-year-old was conspicuous by his absence as the Latics players returned for the beginning of pre-season on Saturday morning.
Latics pushed the boat out as far as they could - and then twice more - in a desperate attempt to extend the contract that officially expires next week.
But Stoke's greater financial muscle - boosted by Premier League parachute payments - blew them out of the water.
Despite the huge gap disparity in the offers from the respective clubs, Cook says the fact Powell took so long to make the decision to leave speaks volumes.
"Wigan Athletic could not have done any more to keep Nick at this football club," he told the Wigan Post.
"Right up until the end, this club genuinely tried their very best to be in the market to keep him here.
"Unfortunately for us - and the fans must accept this - when you find yourselves up against Stoke City, and a few other big clubs he was speaking to, it becomes impossible.
"But the biggest compliment you can pay Wigan Athletic is that it ended up being such a tough decision for him despite all that.
"That really is a compliment in itself."
Powell, whose base is in nearby Crewe, will be officially confirmed a Stoke player in the coming days.
His departure makes it 12 holes in Cook's squad to fill before the transfer deadline at the beginning of August.