Bury manager Alan Knill is expecting captain Stephen Dawson to leave the club rather than sign a new contract.
Highly-rated midfielder Dawson has turned down a new contract offer and is being linked with a move to newly-promoted neighbours Rochdale.
Knill told the Bury Times: "I think we are going to lose Stephen. I spoke to him on Wednesday and he is still to sign a new contract.
"He wants to play at a higher level and nobody can knock him for that.
"It's now up to him to find a suitable club and there is a little bit of me that hopes he will still stay. But we have to be realistic and look at other options."
Dawson is one of several players to have been offered a new deal, with Ryan Cresswell, Andy Morrell, Efe Sodje, Brian Barry-Murphy, David Buchanan, Cameron Belford and Tom Newey also given the chance to stay at Gigg Lane.
However, Knill has decided to release Paul Scott, Danny Raachi, Richie Baker, Josh Rothwell, Damien Allen and Wayne Brown.