Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has warned Shaun Maloney that the board will not break the bank to keep him at the club.
Bhoys officials are desperate to hang on to the Scotland striker, who is out of contract at the end of the season, but little progress has been made in negotiations about a new deal.
Asked about Maloney's future at the club's AGM, Lawwell replied: "In every walk of life, people who ask their boss for more money do not always get what they want.
"We are very keen for him to stay and we clearly see him as a part of Celtic's future. But we cannot keep players at any cost."
He added: "We instigated the process in February, Shaun had Mel Stein as his agent at that point and we were getting on well.
"Shaun then changed agents (to John Halliwell) during the process and here we are in October still looking for a deal.
"We are willing and able to talk at any time and let's see how we get on.
"It is a good time to be at Celtic. Financially, we are sound. We have a strong pool of very competitive players playing for the club and, hopefully, Shaun will stay.
"We hope we do not get to the stage where he will leave for nothing in January. You cannot measure how close we are to a deal but, hopefully, he will be here."