MICK Malthouse would be "bitterly disappointed" if Bryce Gibbs walked out on Carlton after this season.
Gibbs is a restricted free agent at season's end, which means the Blues would have to match any potential big money offers from rival clubs to keep the 25-year-old South Australian.
Speaking on Channel Seven's Talking Footy on Monday night, Malthouse revealed he has tried to convince Gibbs to stay at Visy Park.
"I have had that discussion with him. I'm pretty optimistic but I'm also a realist," Malthouse said.
"I get bitterly disappointed on players going, make no mistake of it.
"Losing Eddie Betts (to Adelaide) last year was the second time I've lost a player that I thought I really wanted him to stay and he left.
"It's a reflection of all of us in many respects, that's the way I feel about it."
Gibbs has copped a barrage in the media for his lacklustre 12-disposal display in Carlton's 12-point round two loss to Richmond last Thursday.
Malthouse thought speculation affected Betts' performances last year and said he believed the added scrutiny weighed on players' minds.
"I have never seen any player that hasn't made a decision playing good football," Malthouse said.
Asked if it could disrupt the playing list, Malthouse replied: "I reckon if you don't play good football it would upset the list.
"I reckon if you're seen to let this affect you, and I reckon last year it was really getting hold of Eddie, and I think the players realised that it was getting hold of him.
"They were backing him up, they were trying to get him to play good football, because at the end of the day he's still contracted until the end of the year.
"You want value for that year."
It has been reported Gibbs wants to know Carlton's direction before making a decision.
Malthouse believes the Blues recruits from other clubs – Dale Thomas, Andrejs Everitt and Sam Docherty – plus draftees such as Patrick Cripps, signal the club is on the way up.
"If you want to look at a template of where the club's going have a look at this year and what we've recruited and see where that's going to take us," he said.
"Everitt was fantastic on the weekend, Thomas wasn't far behind him … I think we're getting better."
"I'm not surprised," Malthouse said of Buckley's 18 disposals against Richmond.
"Because he's there early, he's out there at the end, he practises to get better, loves the club, loves his mates and just listens intently.
"And you just know that when people are like that, you want to see them get rewards and that's fantastic for our football club and him."
Meanwhile, Malthouse said the club has accepted Brock McLean's explanation that he didn't know if he was allowed onto the ground at three-quarter time after being subbed out of the game against the Tigers.
The veteran coach also rejected concerns over his passionate coaching style being an issue for his health.
"If you don't coach with passion, you've got to coach the way you get the best out of yourself and out of the team."
And Malthouse denied he ever regretted his treatment of the media.
"Never, not one ounce, do they regret how they treat me from time to time?" Malthouse said.