That’s the view of The News’ Blues reporter Jordan Cross, who explained on the latest edition of Pompey Talk how the deal on the table may not be satisfactory to the striker.
The ex-Sunderland man is one of three players whose stays expire at this summer, following Sean Raggett’s extension.
Following the 29-year-old’s admission that there had been no contact over prolonging his stay at the season’s end, the club were quick to place fresh terms on the table.
But Cross isn’t sure the current proposal is one which will satisfy the ex-Sunderland man.
When asked if the offer implies a hollow desire from Pompey towards keeping him, or if it is based on their financial constraints, he responded: ‘Maybe a bit of both.
‘The subtext for me from Danny Cowley’s rhetoric about the importance of Aiden O’Brien’s offer being within the framework of the budget, is that perhaps the offer on the table isn’t a massive one.
‘He’s got to use his budget and put it in certain areas and players they’re working on.
‘Maybe it’s a negotiation tactic, but reading between the lines, maybe the offer on the table for Aiden O’Brien isn’t going to be one he’s 100 per cent happy with.
‘O’Brien came in, did very well and massively chimed with Pompey fans, and does have a part to play in the future at the right price.’
Cowley is embarking on another Fratton rebuild this summer, as he looks to transform his side into promotion contenders from their 10th-placed finish last campaign.
High on his priority list is undoubtedly a striker, with no senior attackers contracted beyond this month.
And Cross believes the profile of striker on the Blues head coach’s radar may hinder his desire to keep O’Brien.
On numerous occasions in 2021-22, the south coast side looked to hurt teams on the counter-attack, but often ran out of steam before making the transition count.
This has led to the 43-year-old looking for both a presence and pace for his forward line.
Cross added: ‘I think Cowley feels he is lacking pace in his team at the moment. The attackers last season often got into promising counter-attacking positions but didn’t really have the pace to break the lines.
‘Maybe O’Brien and Ronan Curtis aren’t the paciest of players. Marcus Harness is nippy but not really electric, so there is a focus on that.
‘Obviously they need a presence up front, but they need pace to break the lines. Does O’Brien bring that? Not really.
‘If that’s where Cowley thinks there’s a gap to be filled, he needs to balance up where he needs to put his eggs with what finances are available to him.
‘I’m not saying he won’t go back and make an improved offer with O’Brien, but when he makes the noise he “has to fit in the framework of Pompey’s budget”, that’s what he means to me.’