Hartlepool director of sport Chris Turner has confirmed that Michael Nelson has left the club after he rejected the offer of a new contract.
The defender is reportedly being chased by Norwich, Scunthorpe and Huddersfield and many expected the 29-year-old to leave Victoria Park in the summer.
Despite preparing himself for the worst, Turner admitted that he was disappointed with the news although he wished the former Bury man well for the future.
The centre-half had been at the heart of Pools' defence for six years but decided to opt for pastures new for the remaining chapter of his career.
"I am disappointed Michael has chosen to leave the club but I can understand his decision," Turner told the club's official website.
"This could be a big time for him to move on and he'll leave the football club with our best wishes after giving us six good years of service."