Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts will leave Cardiff Blues at the end of the season, the region have announced.
Cardiff chief executive Richard Holland revealed the Blues had hoped to persuade Roberts to stay with a deal that would have made him one of the best-paid players in the UK but conceded they could not compete with offers from other clubs. The 25-year-old has been linked in the media to big-spending French side Racing Metro.
Holland said: "The offer that we made to Jamie was an extremely attractive one and would have seen him become certainly the highest paid player in the Blues squad, and arguably in the UK."
He added: "As a business we simply don't have the resource to compete with the offers that Jamie has received.
"Naturally we are disappointed that Jamie has decided to leave the region but we wish him the best of luck with his career."
Roberts, who is a product of the Blues Academy, made his senior debut for the region as a winger against the Ospreys in August 2007 and has gone on to make 81 appearances and score 17 tries.
He made his Wales bow, also on the wing, against Scotland at the start of the 2008 Grand Slam season and has since won 44 caps for his country.
The Newport-born back, who is a medical student at Cardiff University and will sit his final exams during next year's RBS 6 Nations tournament, was named as the Lions' Player of the Series on their 2009 tour of South Africa.
Roberts returned to action in September after being sidelined for six months with a knee injury.
Holland added: "Given news of Jamie's departure we will begin the search to find a suitable marquee player who will be eligible to play for us throughout the entire season."