Crewe director of football Dario Gradi says the League Two outfit must produce players who can one day command big money transfer fees if they are to make progress as a club.
They must either produce their own or find rough-cut gems like Jamie Vardy, who Gradi bid for at Halifax six years ago, prior to him joining Fleetwood.
"We tried to get Vardy when he was at Halifax," Gradi told BBC Stoke.
"We offered £50,000, £60,000," said Gradi. "But they wanted over £100,000. I wasn't willing to pay that at the time because he was in trouble off the pitch, but he has managed to turn his life around and has become a terrific player."
"Those non-league players have become more expensive. The market has changed in that respect. It is not so easy to find those players like we used to. You are not going to get a Geoff Thomas, David Platt or Neil Lennon on a free transfer anymore.
"We have to keep on producing our own outstanding players. We have got to coach them through and then handle them correctly in their quest to make that impact in the first team.
"At a recent supporters meeting there were a few murmurings after I said producing players is more important than winning games. But without producing players for our survival we wouldn't have the stadium, the training ground or the players we've had in the past. The trick is to do both on a consistent basis."