Neil Warnock says Cardiff City tried to sign a replacement for Emiliano Sala, but were unable to persuade a striker to join the Premier League club.
Sala became Cardiff's record signing when he moved from Nantes, but his plane disappeared over the English Channel while making his way from Nantes to Cardiff.
Both Sala and pilot David Ibbotson remain missing, with the player's family raising funds to launch their own private operation.
Cardiff's appeal for the Premier League to grant them an extension to the transfer window was turned down and Thursday's deadline passed without a replacement arriving, although they brought in midfielder Leandro Bacuna from Reading for a reported £3 million.
And Warnock confirmed Cardiff tried to bring in another striker to add to a squad in the Premier League's relegation zone, but Sala's absence weighed heavily on their targets' minds.
"One or two of the strikers that we were told about didn't really want to come in, in the circumstances," he told a news conference ahead of Saturday's home game with Bournemouth.
"They [players] didn't want to come after what's happened, so it's been a very difficult transfer window. I was really pleased with [Leandro] Bacuna, that was a bonus.
"Because at the start of the transfer window, I would have been pleased to get two of my three targets. I should have probably got all three of them as we know now, so I don't think we could have worked much harder.
"For one lad from abroad who we were looking at, the sort of finances we were talking, you'd thought the lad was playing for his country on a regular basis. They were talking the sort of money we paid for Bacuna - as a signing on fee, plus an agent's fee.
"I wasn't going to jeopardise the club or the owners for something like that, so we had to pull the plug on a couple of deals at the end of the day. One of them possibly was [close] until we finally got the terms, which were astronomical for what we agreed. Things seemed to change every other day.
"Whether they were pushing on our circumstances, I don't know. I spoke to [chairman] Mehmet [Dalman] and [chief executive] Ken Choo at great length and we weren't going to have a gun put to our head."