Mark McGhee feels Motherwell have missed out to Crewe Alexandra for Lee Barnard.
The striker is due to leave Tottenham Hotspur on a loan basis, and has been tracked by several clubs.
Well boss McGhee admitted his interest in Barnard last week, but is now pessimistic about landing the forward.
"It does look as though we have lost out on Barnard from Spurs as he looks to be heading for Crewe and that shows the problem we have as players down south would rather play in League One than the SPL," McGhee told the club's official website.
Deal days away
Crewe have spent several weeks trying to arrange a deal for Barnard, who has been struggling with a knee injury.
The League One side's first-team coach Steve Holland remains confident a deal will be finalised once the player is fully fit.
Holland told Crewe's official website: "Lee is suffering from a jarred knee at the moment and as soon as he comes through a training session then he will come up here and sign the loan for us.
"Tottenham don't want to send an injured player, just as we don't want to sign one, but we are only talking days with this not months.
"I will be amazed, after the conversations I have had with Lee, if there becomes a situation.
"It is hard for me to believe that he will turn around when he is fit and say he is going somewhere else - that would really surprise me."