Basically the title. I have met my supervisor to ask for a LOR and he was genuinely surprised when I said I'm also applying to his group. He said he had already taken in 3 students and didn't want to take in more that's why he didn't post projects (when I asked that I didn't see any projects for him on the page). He said he generally does not like to post projects because he likes students figuring out their projects, but I should apply anyway and I shouldn't specify anything, and that he would love to take me in because I work well.
Now I am asking because my friend applied to his group and basically knew he was gonna get in because he was upfront with him, had a project and the process was very informal.
I understand from the last line that the takeaway is to apply anyway, but it didn't seem very encouraging and most of my friends who are PhD students are saying he's politely letting you down easy and I should ask again directly for a yes or no answer (because of funding and committees who review my application and how much he'll fight for me), which I am against and think it's going to be weird. Application requires 3 written statements and it would take time to write them that's why I am hesitant to commit that much effort just for a possible rejection from the get-go. But again it seems weird to be told to apply anyway and not apply?