Marco Silva admits Fulham face an uphill task trying to convince Fabio Carvalho to re-sign with the club, but insists the 19-year-old will not be allowed to leave before the transfer window closes on Monday.
Carvalho is regarded as a top prospect and a number of clubs have expressed an interest in signing him for a cut-price fee before his contract expires at the end of the season.
Due to his age, a tribunal will adjudicate on a fee for the Portugal-born England Under-19 international unless Fulham agree a price for him to move.
Fulham are keen to avoid a tribunal after receiving only £1.2m up front from Liverpool for Harvey Elliott, who moved to Anfield in 2019.
That fee could potentially rise to £4.3m if a variety of clauses kick in, but Fulham were furious at losing such a talented player as a 16-year-old.
Silva said the club will revisit the situation at the end of the season if Carvalho does not re-sign.
But the Whites boss maintained the youngster will remain at Craven Cottage to help the club’s push for an instant return to the top flight.
“Fabio will be with us until the end of the season,” Silva said.
“I would like to see him for more years playing for Fulham Football Club but I will not lie and say it has not been difficult for us to renew (his contract).
“When a player with his talent is in the last year of his contract it is difficult to keep him. Even if he was under contract it would be difficult to keep him and without a contract it is even worse.
“Of course in football you cannot expect everything, but right now Fabio will play tomorrow (Saturday) and be here at the end of the season.
“The main thing for us now is to get success at the end of the season and our main players need to be with us to do that.
“If you can keep him for more years then great but it has been tough.”
Carvalho was overlooked by former boss Scott Parker in the Premier League last season, with the Fulham side largely made up on loan players with the likes of Mario Lemina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ademola Lookman filling the attacking midfield positions.
He was finally given his first start at the end of the season at Southampton when the team were already down, and scored in a 3-1 defeat.
Silva suggested those decisions by Parker led to Carvalho making up his mind up to leave before he arrived at the club last July.
“I know the last season for Fabio wasn’t easy. He had some more expectations to play and be involved in the football matches with the first team,” Silva said.
“This season I realised the quality that he has, the talent he has, and we gave him a chance.”