Former Arsenal forward John Hartson has urged Arsene Wenger's side to emulate Manchester United in the transfer market and sign top-class players this summer despite not being able to offer Champions League football.

The Gunners will not be involved in Europe's premier club competition for the first time in over 20 years but Hartson, who scored 17 goals in 71 games during his time in north London, is eager to see 'big players' arrive at The Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal's bitter rivals Manchester United could only offer Europa League football last summer but still managed to recruit the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has since left the club after suffering a severe knee injury.

"Their priority this summer is to be in for big players," Hartson told Sky Sports, relayed by The Express."It's difficult attracting big names, the biggest names in football, when you've not got Champions League of course.

"But Manchester United were able to attract them when they didn't have Champions League. They brought in the likes of [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, one or two others. It's going to be difficult keeping hold of [Alexis] Sanchez."

Many expected Wenger to leave Arsenal after failing to guide them to a top-four finish for the first time in his 21-year reign, but instead the Frenchman committed his future to the club he has served since 1996 by signing a new two-year contract.

Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe is seemingly being chased by every big club in Europe. Reuters

Hartson worked under Wenger during the embryonic stages of his Arsenal tenure and, unlike many, has 'no problem' with him remaining as Gunner boss. But the former Celtic and West Ham United hitman is desperate to see the 67-year-old change tack and actively hunt down football's biggest names, with an £87m move for Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe and a deal for Lyon's £60m-rated Alexandre Lacazette both rumoured and championed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

"I think from Arsene Wenger's point of view, I've not really got a problem with him staying on as Arsenal manager," Hartson added.

"He is a terrific manager, a brilliant man, I was fortunate to have worked with Arsene Wenger during my time at Arsenal. But I really want to see him in for the big names that become available in the world of football, I mean the real top, top class players.

"That's what Arsenal need to challenge for title honours, of course they just won the FA Cup. I just feel that they need to go in for the big, big players which become available just to make them competitive next season in terms of challenging for the title, because that is what the supporters want."