Dave Jones has revealed that Cardiff turned down an approach from Wigan for Joe Ledley.
It is understood that the Latics were prepared to offer £4million plus Jason Koumas in exchange for the highly-rated midfielder.
However, Jones admits the Bluebirds would not be able to meet Koumas' wage demands.
The Cardiff boss is determined to keep hold of Ledley as he builds a team for the future, although he realises he will have to choose his transfer targets carefully.
"The chairman (Peter Ridsdale) has said we will do everything possible to keep Joe Ledley at Cardiff City," Jones told the South Wales Echo.
"And we also can't afford Jason Koumas. There is no way we could pay the sort of wages he is on.
"I have talked to Wigan manager Steve Bruce, but that's the situation. There are lots of players I would like to get, but the chairman would have a fit if I told him what they are earning.
"I've seen Koumas, Henri Camara, Matt Derbyshire and more linked with us. Everybody keeps throwing in names, but we are doing things the right way and nothing will be announced until any player is in."
Jones is keen to bring in a trio of new players but accepts that it will be difficult because of competition from other clubs.
He said: "I'm looking for two more players, but I want three. I need three to give us the maximum push towards promotion.
"But, whoever we try to sign, you can be sure there are a minimum of five or six other clubs aiming to do the same."
Reports in Wales suggest that Cardiff skipper Darren Purse is in talks with Norwich regarding a possible move to Carrow Road.
Purse is out of contract at the end of the season but it is understood that Jones will not allow him to leave until a replacement centre-half has been signed.