Stoke City chairman Peter Coates says that trying to make new signings to keep the Potters at the level they aspire to can be a "messy business".
The Potters, ninth in the Premier League for the last two seasons, are still seeking players despite having already made eight new summer signings.
But Coates warns: "It's a tough marketplace. You can't do negotiations in the way you'd really like.
"It's a real messy business and it won't just be Stoke telling you that."
He told BBC Radio Stoke: "If you're buying, as soon as you start putting numbers on, they want to get that stuff out there (in the media), as it's in their interest to see if there's anything better out there.
|Stoke City signings for 2015-16|
|Moha El Ouriachi (Barcelona)||Joselu (Hannover 96)|
|Shay Given (Aston Villa)||Philipp Wollscheid (B Leverkusen)|
|Jakob Haugaard (FC Midtjylland)||Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea - loan)|
|Glen Johnson (Liverpool)||Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona)|
"They play you off, one against the other. We know how it is but we can do nothing about it. We have a few irons in the fire and we'll see what comes out. You have got to have about 10 options."
Coates is at least reassured that they have a manager in Mark Hughes who is both ambitious, but at the same time realistic.
"Mark Hughes knows we're doing all we can to get the kind of players he wants," added Coates. "He is a very experienced manager, who's been around.
"We get on well, work well together and like to support him as best we can. But he's a very smart guy. He is very pragmatic about things.
"He's the guy who has to handle the players on a day-to-day basis. He wants to get the right dressing room, the right camp and he's very good about it. He fully understands where we're at.
"It's a tough business and you never count your chickens but we think we're making progress and are hopeful, with that bit of luck you always need, that we will do very well and have a good season."
Hughes has confirmed this week that the club remain interested in Ukrainian winger Andriy Yarmalenko, for whom they are reported to have made a £13m bid, having sold Steven N'Zonzi and Asmir Begovic for a combined £15m.
Peter Coates was talking to BBC Radio Stoke's Matt Sandoz.