Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee insists there is no money to spend on signings when the transfer window opens.
The Dons are keen on Motherwell's Jim O'Brien, but are now looking at signing him for free next summer as they are unable to match Well's £20,000 asking price for his services.
McGhee has confirmed he remains committed to signing up Paul Marshall, although he knows it would have to be a loan deal or a free transfer in order for him to press ahead.
However, he concedes the Manchester City trialist could be Dons' only capture come January, however, he is not moaning about their situation as he was well aware of the lack of funds when he joined.
"We are now attempting to persuade Jim to sign a pre-contract that would see him join us in the summer," explained McGhee. "Nothing has been agreed yet.
"He has told us through his agent that while he is interested in hearing what we have to say he doesn't want anyone to question his commitment to Motherwell.
"Jim wants to keep giving his best while still at Fir Park which is admirable. I doubt anything will happen soon as we haven't had any contact back from Motherwell. But from what I understand, if we want to take him in January they will require a small fee.
"Well, we won't have a small fee to pay for him or anyone else and that's why I am lining things up for summer. If something happens quicker then great but I won't be holding my breath.
"There is simply no money in the pot but I knew that when I came here. I would love to have some money as there are players out there who would improve our chances of doing what we want to.
"We still hope to get Paul Marshall from Manchester City on either a loan or if he's freed but he looks like being the only one."