SCOTT Malone's recent performances for Millwall could have been affected by Cardiff's long-standing interest in him, Ian Holloway has admitted.
Malone is expected to complete a £100,000-move to the Bluebirds in the coming days after the Lions accepted a bid for the left back.
The ex-Wolves trainee was due to become a free agent in the summer, when Millwall could have lost him for nothing.
"He's out-of-contract and is he going to want to stay?" said Holloway.
"I've been talking to him for the last few weeks and his agent is the same agent as Cardiff's manager so he'd have known of the interest.
"If you haven't got a contract for next year are you going to smash into a tackle?
"[When there's interest] it's very difficult to have the commitment you need going in for tackles and things like that. He's got to sort his life out."
Some fans have questioned why Malone is being sold for so little but Holloway says the Bosman ruling, not the club, are to blame for the defender's measly price tag.
"He would have been 24 at the end of his contract and I inherited that situation," added the Millwall boss. "He'd have walked out of here for nothing and that would've been terrible.
"So I've had to do a deal – I did it last year with Liam Trotter and Liam Feeney, and that's down to the rules of the game. It's nobody's fault at the club. That's the way it is.
"It's the same for everybody and hopefully when we sign players in the future, their contracts will run beyond their 24th birthday or stop beforehand so we get compensation.
"I won't let anyone run out of contract who turns 24 just before the end of that contract. You don't buy a car and let someone else drive it away for nothing.
"But that is what football has allowed players and their agents to do. Clubs should still own a player if they're paying them the same amount of money.
"Players should not have the chance to get free transfers. If you've worked with a player and improved him, you should be in control. The rules are bonkers."