Rafa Benitez has admitted that Newcastle United are finding it “difficult” to find the right players at the right price.
Benitez is looking to strengthen his midfield in this month’s transfer window.
But the market has been inflated by the Premier League’s new multi-billion pound TV deal.
And the Championship’s second-top team were quoted £20million for Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney.
Benitez – who has brought Sammy Ameobi and Jamie Sterry back from their loans – remains hopeful that he can add to his squad before the end of the month.
Asked if the market was proving more difficult than anticipated, Benitez said: “Always January is quite difficult.
“For any team, you know it is difficult to find the right players for your team, for the right price – at least not the players you need.
“We were doing our job before, preparing some names and we had some targets.
“Then we tried and teams were telling us ‘no, he’s not for sale’ or ‘£20million’. You know that is not their value.”
Benitez’s squad has been weakened by the departures of Mohamed Diame, Christian Atsu and Chancel Mbemba to the Africa Cup of Nations.
“You have to keep working and find the right players, but it’s not easy,” said Benitez.
“So we will see. But in the meantime, because we were ready we brought back Ameobi and Sterry just in case we needed them, especially because we were low on wingers with Atsu leaving.
“We have done what we have to do, and now it depends on how things are going on.
“We can see if we can do what we want to do, or if we have to wait.”
The Magpies are having to compete with Premier League teams given that Benitez is looking for players who, potentially, could be playing in the top flight next season.
“That is the reality,” said Benitez. “Teams in the Premier League who have problems, they are desperate maybe to keep players or bring players, then the prices are too high for a player you know aren’t that value.
“It’s more difficult, but you have to try.”