The Blues boss has told how it looked as if he had a loan deal in the bag to boost his threadbare squad - until losing the target as he opted for a permanent move to the third tier.
Cowley explained the deal was done on double the wages he was able to offer, as he goes about trying to rebuild his squad this summer.
Ipswich Town have been the team doing significant business in recent days, with Conor Chaplin agreeing a £750,000 move to Portman Road from Championship Barnsley.
Paul Cook has also landed George Edmundson from Rangers - with talk of £1.5m asking price and initial fee in the region of £750,000.
The News understands there has been Pompey interest in both men.
The figures involved are way out of the Blues’ league, however, along with the weekly wages being put on the table for the players.
Cowley told The News: ‘We have two options. We can sign players today, but for us it’s waiting for the right players.
‘I’ll make no apologies for doing that.
‘We have to sign players who are good enough to play for Portsmouth Football Club and can help us try to achieve what we want as a football club.
‘We’ve missed out on some targets.
‘There was one that would’ve signed for another club this week.
‘We’re getting blown out of the water by some clubs in this division at the minute. That’s just the reality.
‘We would’ve had one there was a good chance to take on loan.
‘We have a good relationship with the agent and he was due to come down yesterday, but he got offered a permanent deal which was double what we can pay any of our players.
‘That’s the reality at the moment.’
Ipswich’s business has been grabbing the headlines as they splash the cash after their American takeover, while Wigan Athletic are spending big by League One standards after their Bahraini-backed buyout.
The News understands Sunderland bid £1.3m for a player with a Premier League club over the weekend, as well as making a £600,000 offer for Nottingham Forest’s Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel.
Cowley knows his challenge is to find answers to going up against rivals with deeper wallets than Pompey.
He added: ‘The reason we do all this background work is because sometimes you can’t always sign your first choice.
‘Sometimes you have to be open minded and do your due diligence to make sure you have a real clear handle on the market.
‘You need to know which players fit your game idea and the way you play.
‘Secondly, they need to make the team significantly better, because we’ll only make change for significant gain.
‘And thirdly, we need to make sure they are good value for money.
‘It’s not right for me to comment about any other club, but it’s there to see and good luck to those clubs.
‘It’s absolutely their prerogative.
‘The last window was very different with the salary cap and made the league a really competitive one.
‘This year, there’s a huge difference between what clubs are paying in this division. That’s just what it is.
‘We’re going to worry about ourselves, get the very best value with what we have available and try to be as competitive as we can.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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