Manchester United are prepared to back manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the January transfer window but are warning that they will not overpay for players just to save the season, sources have told ESPN FC.
The Glazers and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward accept that Solskjaer's squad has been left short in midfield and up front after the summer departures of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.
United are willing to bolster key positions in January but have made it clear to clubs and intermediaries that they will not be held to ransom over fees and wages after a disappointing start to the campaign. Solskjaer's team has slipped to 12th in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday's crucial clash with Liverpool.
Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, 33, remains an option to provide competition for Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood up front but has been told he will need to drop his wage demands to secure a move.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic is available from Barcelona, but sources have told ESPN FC that a move to United is unlikely because of family reasons.
Deals for long-term targets such as Leicester playmaker James Maddison, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and Lyon's Moussa Dembele will also be explored, but there is an acceptance that most of the next round of recruiting will have to wait until next summer.
Meanwhile, Solskjaer is sweating on the fitness of Paul Pogba ahead of Sunday's game. The French midfielder has been wearing a cast on his right foot after failing to recover from an injury picked up during the 1-1 draw with Southampton in August.
He has spent time at the Transform Altitude Performance Center in Dubai but is expected back at Carrington this week to be assessed by United's medical staff ahead of Liverpool's visit to Old Trafford.
United are set to have Daniel James available to face Liverpool after the winger denied he was knocked out during Wales' 1-1 draw with Croatia on Sunday. The 21-year-old lay motionless after a clash with Domagoj Vida but afterwards insisted he was "fine."
And Anthony Martial will be in contention to face the Premier League leaders if he can prove his fitness. The 23-year-old is set to return to training after missing eight games with a thigh injury.