Port Vale hero Phil Sproson says he can understand if Nathan Smith waits until the end of the season before making a decision about his future.
Vale have offered the centre half a new deal but accept he is likely to weigh up his options when his current contract ends in the summer.
Smith turns 24 in April so could leave on a free transfer. Sproson is a player agent, although he doesn’t represent Smith.
He said: “I think Nathan is probably right. He has had a good season and I think he’s coming to the stage of his career where he has got to think long-term about where he wants to spend the next three years.
“Looking at the Vale, you would say there has been a huge improvement off the pitch and also on the pitch and what players are coming in.
“But I think he has to sit down with his agent and have a heart to heart to say, ’right, have we pushed Vale to their absolute maximum of where they will go on a basic wage for the contract offer?’
“Once that is established, he will then need to be with his agent and say who else have we spoken to? Who else wants to meet us and what else will be on the horizon, and what division are we talking about?
“If he has to uproot, and go to far-flung corners of the country, then that has to be a consideration. If you are talking about an extra £250 a week it probably isn’t worth it. If you are talking in excess of £500 a week then that has to be a question.”
Sproson played 500 games for the Vale and, like Smith, came through the club’s youth system.
He would like Smith to stay but says all that can be asked of the youngster is he continues as the to give his all for the Vale while under contract.
He said: “He is a professional footballer, not loyalty bound to that club, you are there to pursue your own professional career and be the best you can. Whichever club you play for, you have to be the best for that club.”