Pep Guardiola said Manchester City are judged differently to other clubs on the subject of transfer spending, arguing they would be "killed" if they splashed out as much money on new signings as Chelsea have over the last 12 months.
City's spending has been scrutinised since Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour became owner in 2008. The club is facing 115 charges brought by the Premier League for alleged breaches of financial regulations.
Chelsea have spent more than $1 billion in player transfer fees since the new ownership led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital completed their takeover of the club in May 2022.
"We'd be under scrutiny like you couldn't imagine," Guardiola told reporters on Friday. "I couldn't sit here if we spent what Chelsea spent in the last two transfer windows - you would kill me.
"We have to see what happens in the market and if we can do it and to pay what we believe is fair... In the end, we will pay what is fair to do it. Otherwise, we have the academy."
City signed defender Josko Gvardiol earlier this month while midfielder Mateo Kovacic joined in June, with the transfer fees reported to be 90 million euros ($97.79 million) and 25 million pounds ($32 million), respectively.