Roberto Mancini is ready to admit defeat in his attempts to take Javi Martinez, Daniele De Rossi and Daniel Agger to Manchester City.
The Italian has already missed out on two other major summer transfer targets - Eden Hazard, who joined Chelsea, and Robin van Persie, who left Arsenal for Manchester United.
Now Athletic Bilbao's Spain international Martinez is on the brink of moving to Bayern Munich, and De Rossi and Agger, who appear likely to remain at Roma and Liverpool respectively.
"We talked about Martinez," Mancini said. "But it is a situation that is not easy because there are top clubs who want Martinez. De Rossi is difficult because he is a Roma. Agger? I don't think so."
Mancini has only brought in one player - Everton's Jack Rodwell - but Martinez and De Rossi, who are also both capable of playing in the centre of midfield or defence, were his preferred options for that role.
And while the Italian insisted his relationship with City's football administrator Brian Marwood is fine, he reiterated his stance that the club should have acted earlier in the transfer window.
He added: "Sometimes it is not enough maybe to have money to spend. Sometimes you should move very quickly because when there are three or four top teams involved it is difficult."