Word from German news source Express.de is that Bayer Levekusen have rejected a bid by Arsenal for midfielder Lars Bender.
While the reports have been backed by top journalists throughout Europe, the amount of the bid has become a subject of controversy. The Express article claims the bid was for €23 million ($30.2m) although German-based journalist, Raphael Hongistein, now claims the amount was closer to €15 million ($19.6m).
One thing is for sure, Leverkusen’s rejection is categorical, meaning the bid did not fail due to improper valuation, rather the German side simply does not want to sell. Which makes sense.
Bender is a budding 25 year old German international who anchored the Werkself midfield with 3 goals and six assists in 33 Bundesliga appearances last season. What’s more, Leverkusen can hardly fail to lose a third key player having already sold right-back Dani Carvajal to Real Madrid and Andre Schurrle to Chelsea this summer.
Arsenal’s decision to pursue Bender, who’s twin brother Sven plays for Borussia Dortmund, indicates a growing desire to provide Jack Wilshire with a midfield upgrade from Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey.
While manager Arsene Wenger has not indicated an intent to sell either Gunner, Bender is part of a growing list of holding midfielders – headlined by Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Celtic’s Victor Wanyama – who have been mentioned as the potential answer to Arsenal’s desire to add grit to the center of the park.