Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will not overpay in terms of wages to recruit their top targets.
City this week lost out to Barcelona in the chase for Ajax’s highly-rated midfielder Frenkie De Jong.
The Holland midfielder is to move to the Nou Camp in a £65million deal in the summer, with the player reportedly set to earn around £300,000 per week.
In this case Guardiola accepts the lure of Barca is a strong one, but it is understood the salary was also beyond what City were prepared to pay.
City boss Guardiola said: “I think we try to keep the harmony in the locker room with the wages.
“When you have no balance with that then there is always a problem with the mood in the locker room.
“One of the good things that City have done is keeping that balance.”
Transfer fees and wages are continually rising but, despite City’s modern reputation for lavish investment, they have shown they are not prepared to overspend if they believe deals do not represent good value.
Alexis Sanchez, Dani Alves and Jorginho are among the players to have been pursued by City in the recent past only for other clubs to move in.
Guardiola believes extra emphasis will have to be placed on spotting talent early.
He said: “The reality is that it’s not just one or two teams paying a lot on wages. There are many. Many, many.
“Before, the rumours were that it was just PSG and Manchester City. That is over. Everybody can pay a lot in fees and wages. There are many and sometimes we can’t compete with that.
“We have to be quicker, faster and don’t get nervous. At the end we want players who want to come here.”
De Jong is the latest midfield target to have got beyond City as they seek a natural replacement for Fernandinho following frustration over Fred and Jorginho.
But Guardiola said: “I said many times, with Barcelona and Madrid it’s impossible to fight against them – for the prestige, the incredible league, the incredible clubs they are.
“The players have to take their own decisions. When they don’t want to come it’s because they want another place. There are other options and we are going to try if we believe we need players in that position.”