Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou is determined not to lose Mark Milligan cheaply after rejecting a bid from Crystal Palace this weekend, one which fell well short of the club's valuation.
Socceroo Milligan has been the subject of interest from Palace ahead of the English Premier League season, and the promoted side had reportedly submitted an improved offer of AU$1.5 million for the versatile midfielder.
However, Goal Australia understands Palace's offer was less than AU$500,000, and would not have matched the fee Victory received from UAE outfit Al Shaab for Billy Celeski.
Speaking to the media on Monday, Postecoglou described Milligan as the best player in Australia, and will not let him go without a fight.
"We value him very, very highly," he said.
"And unless somebody wants to look to prise him away from us we'd expect them to meet our valuation of him.
"He's the best player at our club, he's the best player in the country at the moment. I don't think we need to be out there trying to flog him and we're certainly not doing it for the money."
When pressed on how much it would take to secure Milligan's services, Postecoglou said: "I'm not sure because we haven't got a for-sale sign up. If somebody knocks on your door and says 'I want to buy your house', do you give them a price?"
"We've haven't had a bid of 1.5 million [dollars] from Palace. We've had a bid over the weekend but it's fallen short of our valuation."
Postecoglou acknowledged the reasons behind Palace's pursuit of Milligan, but expects the player to honour his commitment to Victory ahead of the 2013-14 A-League season.
"I understand that Millsy's a highly sought-after player, which is fantastic," he said.
"But he will enjoy his time at this football club, he loves the fans, he loves being part of it and he understands that he's in this position because of this football club.
"He's contracted for another two years and we see him as a very important part of what we're building here.
"We've got a responsibility to our supporters. We're going to have 20-odd thousand members this year, we're going to have 50,000 at our first game. I take that responsibility very seriously."
For all his tough talk, Postecoglou did not categorically rule out Milligan departing AAMI Park, but it will take a substantial offer to seal his exit.
"Things change pretty quickly in our game. We value him very, very highly. And [if] somebody wants to look to prise him away from us we'd expect them to meet our valuation of him."