Melbourne City believe the future of their star defender Bart Schenkeveld is in the balance, and won't be resolved until the end of the A-League season.
The Dutchman is out of contract at year's end - like many players in the competition - and has been linked to moves across the league.
Coach Warren Joyce, himself likely to depart at season's end, said the matter was with the club's football director and said he wasn't sure whether it would end positively for City.
"Conversations are ongoing with Michael Petrillo and Bart and the club and they're trying to resolve them," he said.
"You're never sure with contract negotiations ... and particularly in this country when they leave it this late.
City officials believe the 27-year-old wants to stay, but negotiations are yet to get to the stage where the club has offered him a new contract.
The one-time Netherlands youth international arrived in Melbourne as a 25-year-old courtesy of a recommendation from ex-boss John van 't Schip and has shown himself to be one of the A-League's toughest defenders.
He won the club's player of the year award last season and is every chance of doing it again this campaign.
Joyce, like many of his coaching colleagues, expressed frustration at the A-League culture that saw more players off-contract than in overseas leagues.
"If you looked at how many players we've got out of contract going into this weekend, we've got more players out than players in contract," he said.
"It's just a theme in Australia that we've got to contend with and work behind the scenes to see if we can sort out."
Joyce took aim at the salary cap which did not allow clubs to reward players with mid-season pay rises if they had already allocated their funding for the year.
"It's the only way you can build a football club by looking after the ones that reward you and do really well," he said.
"Making sure they're the backbone of the team for years to come. That's a norm anywhere in the world.
"I do think it makes it difficult, the way the salary cap is set out, to do that."