Simon Grayson thinks that Preston North End did all they could to try and keep Josh Brownhill at Deepdale.
The midfielder will join Bristol City next month when his PNE contract runs out.
Brownhill, 20, was offered a new two-year deal by North End but did not respond to it.
He spent the second half of the season on loan at Barnsley, helping them to promotion via the League One play-offs.
Lilywhites manager Grayson told the Evening Post: “Josh leaving is a decision he has made, rather than us.
“We made him an offer months ago but he did not come back to us.
“I wish Josh well, though, he is a great lad and played his part for us.
“We did as much as we could do to keep him at the club.
“Last Sunday, I saw him at Wembley when he played for Barnsley in the play-off final.
“It was a good way for him to finish the season.
“Josh has had three visits to Wembley in the last year and won them all.”
The longer time went on without Brownhill’s agent responding to the contract offer, North End suspected he would be moving elsewhere.
They were contacted by Bristol City earlier this week in order to negotiate compensation.
A six-figure fee with add-ons was agreed, the additional payments being linked to appearances.
North End yesterday released a statement which read: “PNE can confirm that Josh Brownhill has agreed to join Bristol City when his current contract expires on June 30, 2016.
“As Josh is under 24 and we had offered him a new contract, training compensation applies.
“We have agreed the quantum of training compensation with Bristol City and we thank them for the professional way in which they have approached this issue.
“On behalf of everyone at PNE we would like to thank Josh for his contribution to our first-team success whilst he was with us.
“We wish Josh every success in his future career.”
Brownhill joined PNE aged 15, having been released by Manchester United.
He forced his way into the first-team squad when he was 17, scoring on his first start at Gillingham in October 2013.
Meanwhile, Grayson is keeping tabs on North End defender Bailey Wright during his time with the Australia squad.
Wright is Down Under for the Socceroos’ two friendlies against Greece, the first of which is in Sydney tomorrow.
The centre-half sat out training yesterday with a slight injury he had felt in the previous day’s session.
After a strong display in last week’s 2-1 defeat to England at Sunderland, the Aussies will be hoping he recovers.
Grayson said: “It was a big feather in Bailey’s cap that he played well against England.
“He is back home for the two games against Greece at the moment.
“Compared to the other lads here, Bailey won’t have had too much of a rest.
“I’ve given him the chance to come back for training a little bit later but he seems happy to start at the same time.”