David Holdsworth is trying to convince Adam Smith to take a pay cut and join him at Lincoln City next season.
The Echo can reveal the Imps boss is desperate to sign the winger, with the former Chesterfield wideman destined to leave Mansfield.
It is understood Holdsworth has already sounded out the free agent about a move to Sincil Bank where he spent time on loan in January 2008.
The Imps chief believes he will add much-needed flair to his attack as he aims to avoid a repeat of last season's disappointing finish in the league.
But with one of the lowest budgets in the club's history, Holdsworth is busy trying to convince the 27-year-old that a move would be worthwhile.
And he hopes that his close off-field relationship with the player will eventually prove decisive in their negotiations.
The duo worked together at Mansfield where Smith scored six goals in the 2009/10 season and became a regular fixture in Holdsworth's starting 11.
Lincoln are not the only club monitoring Smith who is attracting attention from Football League clubs.
Lincoln cannot compete with those wages given their finances which have been hit further by the loss of a £225,000 solidarity payment.
But with the Name Our Stadium cash starting to mount, that could prove extremely handy to Holdsworth in his rebuilding plans.
Having signed Ashley Westwood, Gary Mills, Robert Duffy and Paul Farman this week, he is hoping to make more additions but is astounded by some wage demands.
"Some players will have to lower what they are asking for if they want to come here," said Holdsworth.
"Some of them I have spoken too want far too much compared to the reality of what we can afford.
"It's disappointing, but what it does tell me is that the job I did with no budget last season was a good one.
"I had to manufacture funds on that occasion and I asked for favours. A lot of the players I asked did them for me.
"That's why it was a massive achievement in keeping the club up and I have nothing but admiration for those players who ensured pay wasn't a factor."
Meanwhile, Holdsworth was pleased to add Farman to his squad after he signed a one-year deal yesterday.
It will be the goalkeeper's second stint at the club and effectively ends player of the year Joe Anyon's two-year stay at the club.
"Paul did very well for the club last season and despite having other offers, showed a great desire to come and play for Lincoln," said Holdsworth.