Lars Bender: The Player Manchester United Should Sign This Summer

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 27, 2013

L'VIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 17:  Lars Bender of Germany in action during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Denmark and Germany at Arena Lviv on June 17, 2012 in L'viv, Ukraine.  (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
Joern Pollex/Getty Images

Multiple news outlets, including The Mirror, have been reporting on Manchester United's interest in Kevin Strootman for well over six months.

It's a deal that looked so assured under Sir Alex Ferguson, but little to no progress has been made since David Moyes took charge.

The Eredivisie midfielder may have his heart set on the English Premier League, but with The Express signalling interest from AC Milan, Moyes is going to have to step it up a notch.

Any move for Victor Wanyama looks dead, and should the worst happen regarding Strootman, who can Manchester United look to to fill their midfield gap?

Lars Bender, the less prominent of the Bender twins, is currently plying his trade for Bayer Leverkusen. His game is far more complete than Sven's and represents the all-encompassing prospect Sir Alex was searching for before he retired.

He made his name initally as a holding midfielder, but has honed the offensive side of his game over the past 12 months to make himself a viable box-to-box threat.

B/R's Allan Jiang ran a short profile on him whilst checking in on Sami Hyypia's progress and was full of praise for the German:

In the UEFA Europa League, he won back possession 40 times while only committing three free kicks. 

He has always been renowned for his efficient tackling (was only carded once in the Bundesliga last season) but his three goals and six assists in league play illustrate his transformation into a more composed version of Arturo Vidal.

His technique while tackling is superb, as is his recovery pace, and the way he executes his slides reveals how cool, calm and collected he is.

It's easy for someone playing a combative role to become hot-headed, but Bender is as passive as they come considering the position he plays.

Surging forward, he can stretch his legs. He's by no means the most accomplished player in and around the opposing penalty area, but he's drastically improved.

Not shy in the slightest, he'll pass between the links, recycle possession or carry it forward at will. Where Sven Bender of Borussia Dortmund has worked to make the tracking, marking and interception side of his game elite in standing, Lars has ventured forward and opened his pallet.

His tally of three goals and seven assists last season proves he's getting into the right areas, and his goal against Hoffenheim proves he's willing to gamble in the box.

Strootman is the perfect candidate for United, but should the deal collapse, Lars Bender is a wonderful alternative this summer. He'd cost more than Strootman, but at just 24 years of age he's already a well-rounded, top-tier option.

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