Andy Cole says he sympathises with Manchester United refusal to spend "crazy money" on Jadon Sancho amid the widespread financial losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Red Devils have made Sancho their priority target and have been heavily linked with a move for the 20-year-old winger throughout the transfer window.
But they have been unable to strike a deal with Borussia Dortmund, with the German giants holding out for their £109million asking price to be met.
United are unwilling to table a nine-figure bid for the England international and are instead preparing a £90million offer to be submitted next week.
And Cole says he can understand why his former side are reluctant to fork out such a high sum "in this current climate".
“That is big money, crazy money," the United legend told the PA Agency . “You don’t know when punters are going to be allowed back into the stadiums. Every club must be losing absolute fortunes.
“When you look at a team like Real Madrid spending no money, what does that tell you? They’ve done no business, so you know something is wrong with football.
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“Looking at it from outside, I think Man United are saying ‘we are not going to spend money willy-nilly. If the right individual comes in at the right price, yeah, we’ll do it’. But £109million, in this current climate?”
Nonetheless, Cole believes United do need to strengthen their squad before the transfer window closes on 5 October.
He added: “I know they’re trying to bring in players that are going to improve the squad, and rightly so.
“Centre-half, centre-forward – I look at those two positions. They are two paramount positions in your team.
"The midfield area for me is now sorted, there is enough creativity in there to play as well as any midfield in the Premier League, so I think those [other] areas [need strengthening].”
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