By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Manchester United will continue to target world-class players who can immediately strengthen their squad, vowed Ed Woodward on Thursday.

United have spent £250million on new players in the last two years on the likes of Angel Di Maria, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The Premier League giants have had mixed results in the transfer market but the demands of the club means they will continue to be in the market for the top stars.

Announcing record second-quarter revenue of £133.8million on Thursday, director Woodward avoided any mention of manager Louis van Gaal amid speculation that Jose Mourinho is being lined up to replace the Dutchman.

But he was pressed by investors on why a Leicester side costing a total of £22m can be top of the Premier League when United are fifth after the £250million spent on strengthening the squad.

“Leicester are a fantastic reference point for everybody this year,” said Woodward. “The philosophy we have is to target quality of players based on the huge amount of scouting that we do and analysis within the training ground. Then we do our best to do the best deal we can.

“Some players are bought by other clubs with an eye to them developing into something special in a few years’ time, where there is a bit more pressure on the bigger clubs to bring in players who hit the ground running and are verging on world-class almost immediately. There is a slightly different market in which people are buying.”

United have attempted to buy heavyweights like Neymar, Gareth Bale and Thomas Muller in recent years but have been unable to land a true global star.

Triple joy: Messi reclaimed top spot after flourishing in a front three with Suarez and Neymar

Triple joy: Messi reclaimed top spot after flourishing in a front three with Suarez and Neymar

Nevertheless, United are prepared to go head-to-head with rivals Manchester City in the summer over a staggering £150million move for Neymar.

In addition to the commitment to the elite, Woodward reaffirmed United’s commitment to youth at a time when Jesse Lingard and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are impressing for the first team.

He compared United’s track record in that department with rivals like Manchester City and Chelsea, and promised news on the academy changes following an extensive review.

“The academy continues to be the heart of the club, giving youth a chance is part of our DNA,” said Woodward.

“We took the departure of Brian McClair last summer as an opportunity to do a root-and-branch review of the academy. That is now compete and changes are under way. Announcements will follow in in coming days.”