Western United coach Mark Rudan concedes the A-League simply can't compete with cashed-up competitions overseas after the newcomers fell short in luring former Premier League star Samir Nasri down under.
The expansion club attempted to sign Nasri on a marquee contract but the former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder turned them down, saying through his agent that the deal "was not possible" for financial reasons.
Western United remain in contact with the Frenchman, who is weighing up lucrative offers from clubs in the Middle East.
"Speaking to Samir, obviously he had a lot of offers around the world but huge ones in Qatar," Rudan told AAP.
"We just can't compete.
"What we can try and tell these players is that the lifestyle here is fantastic. Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world and that's one thing that really interested him and his young family, that he was able to potentially leave somewhat of a legacy.
"I was actually taken aback by how much he knew about the city and about the A-League as well.
"Word is getting out about the A-League but unfortunately there's only so much that we can offer financially."
Rudan, who last season steered Wellington Phoenix to a finals berth in his first A-League campaign, was unveiled as Western United's foundation coach in May.
He's confident the club can make an immediate impact in the 2019/20 season and said even just engaging with Nasri indicated their ambition.
"This club is dreaming big," he said.
"At a time when the league needs someone like a Samir Nasri, this football club is trying to bring in someone like that to prop up the whole league."
With the A-League battling to attract big-name players, Rudan was disappointed by the defection of his former charge and reigning Johnny Warren Medal winner Roy Krishna to the Indian Super League along with Phoenix teammate David Williams.
"That's not ideal because I don't think much of the Indian league at all, to be honest," Rudan said.
"But they've got money over there. Had they have gone to Korea or China or Japan, more respectable competitions, I would have said OK because a lot of Australians have gone there. But now there's a new competitor on the market."
Western United on Thursday announced construction company Probuild as their inaugural major sponsor.
Australian Associated Press