Arsenal preparing January bid for midfielder Bender

Arsenal are lining up a £20m January bid for Bayer Leverkusen defensive midfielder Lars Bender, according to the Daily Star, with manager Arsene Wenger looking for a long-term replacement for Mikel Arteta, who will be 32 in March.

Bender was among Arsenal’s list of transfer targets during the summer, and the Gunners saw an offer of £18.5m rejected by Leverkusen, who finished third in the Bundesliga last season. Record signing Mesut Ozil has recommended Bender, and Wenger is likely to return with an improved offer in the New Year.

The 24-year-old Bender has been at Leverkusen since 2009, scoring 14 goals in 149 appearances in all competitions after joining from 1860 Munich. His performances for Sami Hyypia’s side have earned him 15 caps for Germany.

Manchester United, who are looking to strengthen their midfield, are rumoured to be interested in Bender, but should a bid come in, Leverkusen are under no financial pressure to sell, having sold Andre Schurrle and Daniel Carvajal to Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively in the summer for a combined total of around £25m.

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