Aberdeen boss Mark McGhee admits he simply cannot afford to compete with English clubs when it comes to buying players.
The Dons manager was keen to sign out-of-contract Motherwell winger Jim O'Brien, who was also heavily linked with a host of other top Scottish clubs which included Rangers, Hearts, Hibernian and St Johnstone.
However, it is reported the 21-year-old is set to turn his back on Scotland altogether and opt for England to sign a three-year deal with Championship club Barnsley.
"I think there are two things going on here," said McGhee.
"One is that they can outbid us, they have the finances even in the Championship to make it difficult for us.
"But I think the boys themselves feel if they get the opportunity to go to the English league that they should take it.
"There are a lot more clubs bigger and better than Barnsley who will see Jim O'Brien if he's playing for Barnsley who may take him onto the next level."