CARLTON won't engage in a bidding war to keep restricted free agent Bryce Gibbs at the club but remains hopeful it will make a good enough offer for the 25-year-old to accept.
Club CEO Greg Swann said he was cautiously optimistic the Blues could retain Gibbs, who comes out of contract at the end of this season, and early indications were that he wanted to stay at Carlton.
The Adelaide-raised midfielder was the No.1 pick in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft and both Adelaide and Port Adelaide have declared their interest in bringing him back to South Australia.
Swann told SEN on Saturday the Blues had a method in place to determine what they offered Gibbs, and the level of demand would not change its strategy.
"We've got a figure and that is the figure we will offer and if he can get two or three times more, he might go, but from our point of view we won't be matching a market that we don't think is real," Swann said.
"The problem you have got is there are not many good free agents and if there are four other clubs chasing them then obviously the price is going to go up.
“We will make an offer and it will be a good offer and hopefully that is enough. We can't just go into a free for all."
When that offer is finalised remains anyone's guess but Swann said that all things being equal, the club did not want to lose a player of Gibbs' quality.
"You don't want to lose a guy who is 25 years old who has got some of his best footy coming. We don't think we can be held to ransom either, so it is a balance," Swann said.
He said the club had made its displeasure known to Gibbs' management after a news report suggested he wanted an indication on where the list was heading before committing, but emphasised Gibbs himself did not drive that agenda nor suggest at any time he believed such a meeting was necessary.
Swann has been around long enough to know anything could happen from here but feels positive about the negotiations.
"I can't speak for Bryce. All the indications are that he wants to stay. Let's see how that plays out," Swann said.
"[Gibbs] has got a property at the back of the ground (Optus Oval), he has been settled here for seven or eight years, he and his girlfriend are settled in Melbourne so that is a plus.
“The feel is, and his conversations with various people are, that he wants to stay so we will go from there."
Gibbs indicated on The Footy Show on Thursday night that he would "probably" remain at Carlton in 2015.
Swann said Carlton was continuing to revamp its list with the aim of becoming a top four side – the only place to realistically challenge for a flag – rather than hovering around the fringes of the final eight.
Carlton gained Dale Thomas last season from Collingwood through free agency but lost Eddie Betts to Adelaide.
He pointed to the club introducing four first round draft picks in the off-season – Thomas (No.2 in 2005 draft), Andrejs Everitt (No.11 in 2006), Sam Docherty (No.12 in 2011) and Patrick Cripps (No.13 in 2013) – and the high turnover of players as a sign that things were not standing still.
Dylan Buckley also became the Blues' first NAB Rising Star since 2010 last week and Troy Menzel kicked a critical goal against Richmond. The club is excited about their progress.
The Blues are also yet to sign free agents Michael Jamison and Jarrad Waite but re-signed captain Marc Murphy, midfielder Kade Simpson and utility Andrew Walker in the past month.
But Gibbs remains flavour of the month and a subject of interest."Sometimes these things take a bit of time and sometimes you can get them done quickly. In this case the conversations are amicable," Swann said.