Gary Neville believes Manchester United would have tried to sign the likes of Raphael Varane or Harry Maguire in January if the transfer market was not “stuck”.
Just seven of the 20 Premier League sides decided to strengthen during the winter transfer window, with spending dropping from £465 million ($603m) in 2018 to £140 million ($181m) in 2019.
United were one of the 13 clubs who decided to hold tight and not delve into the market, with eyes on a potential squad revamp in the summer when their long-term managerial situation is confirmed.
However, despite some uncertainty at the Old Trafford club over who will be in the dugout next season, Neville insists they still would have bought players if they were available for a reasonable price.
"Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United would have bought a couple of centre-halves if he could have got them,” Neville told Sky Sports .
“Arsenal would have done the same. All the top teams would have bought in positions they need. But they can't get them.
“Would Manchester United have brought in Raphael Varane, or Harry Maguire for example, if they believed they were available for decent prices in this transfer window? One hundred per cent they would.
"They would have tried, asked the question, made the noises underneath with the agents and the scouting departments, but they're just not there [for the right price].
"It's a real problem, the market is stuck in some ways."
United hit the headlines last January for their acquisition of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way.
However, the Chilean has so far failed to impress for the Red Devils, managing just two goals in 17 appearances in all competitions for the club this season.
Former England international Neville believes it is cheaper for clubs now to sack the manager to solve a struggling situation, rather than buy an expensive player for the long term, like Sanchez.
"I think certain clubs will always try and panic,” Neville added. “But the panic now doesn't actually centre around buying, it's usually centred around the manager.
“What they normally do now is change the manager. Clubs can do it twice in a season.”
United’s next fixture is against Fulham on February 9 in the Premier League.