Pep Guardiola claims it would be "impossible" for Manchester City to sign a big-money replacement striker for Sergio Aguero this summer.
The City boss has even suggested the club may not bring in a new centre forward at all.
The announcement this week that Aguero, City's record goalscorer, is to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season has intensified speculation linking the club with Borussia Dortmund's prolific Erling Haaland.
Tottenham's Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe, of Paris St Germain, have also been mentioned - but each of those three could command a fee of well over Stg 100million ($A182 million).
Guardiola feels that is just not realistic in the current climate.
"Listen, with these prices we are not going to sign any striker," said the City boss, who has coped well enough without a specialist centre forward for large parts of this season already, with Aguero and Gabriel Jesus both having fitness problems.
"We are not going to sign any striker, it's impossible - we cannot afford it. It's impossible. That's not going to happen, no.
"All the clubs struggle financially and we are not an exception. We have Gabriel and Ferran (Torres), who played incredible in this position this season.
"We have young players in the academy and we have played many times with a false nine.
"I don't know what will happen. Maybe we are going to buy one but maybe we are not going to buy any striker for the next season. Today, there is more chance we are not going to buy any striker."
Aguero has scored 257 goals for City since joining the club 10 years ago but his past season has been ravaged by injury and illness.
Guardiola admits the decision not to renew his contract was a tough call for the club.
"Maybe we could find a new player to replace Sergio in terms of numbers but it is almost impossible to replace him in terms of what he means to this club."
Premier League leaders City are set to come up against an in-form striker in their former player Kelechi Iheanacho as they return to action after the international break at Leicester on Saturday.
The Nigerian, who left City in 2017, has scored seven goals in his last four games for the third-placed Foxes.
"Incredible," said Guardiola when asked about Iheanacho at his pre-match press conference.
"He was a young player (here) but with Gabriel and Sergio we didn't have much space. He is a fantastic person. We had a good relationship. I'm delighted it's going well lately."