Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has insisted his side are not always able to match others in terms of spending power in the transfer window due to their tight budget.
The Citizens were hotly tipped to land former Arsenal attacker Alexis Sanchez throughout the course of the first half of the season, however were unwilling to match the player's large financial demands.
The Sky Blues' withdrawal allowed inter-city rivals Manchester United to swoop and secure the Chile international on a big-money four-and-a-half-year deal, which reportedly saw him become the highest paid player in history at Old Trafford.
However, despite being labelled as one of the world's spending powers, Guardiola has insisted City cannot always break the bank when adding to their squad, and that the north west outfit cannot afford 22 "top" players.
"When you want to handle four competitions sometimes you have to be lucky with injuries", the Catalan manager told Sky Sports.
"Otherwise you need 22 top players for every position. People don't believe this, but today 22 top players is too expensive to buy, even [for] City.
"Their salaries we cannot pay. There are budgets for the transfers and we cannot pay. In the future, it may change but we haven't paid more than £80m-£100m for one player. We cannot pay that right now, it is the truth.
"That's why we need the academy to fight. Of course, we spend a lot money but it is the same money as a lot of other teams. I can assure you we are not the only team in the world that spend money."
Despite Guardiola claiming he must adhere to a strict budget, City are expected to break their record transfer fee this month, which currently stands at £55m for Kevin De Bruyne, when they confirm the signing of Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, with reports in Italy claiming the Citizens agree to reach the defender's buyout clause of £57m on Friday.