Arsenal: Why Lars Bender Is the Right Man for Arsene Wenger's Midfield

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Arsenal: Why Lars Bender Is the Right Man for Arsene Wenger's Midfield
Joern Pollex/Getty Images

According to Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, Arsenal have had an £18.5 million bid for Lars Bender knocked back.

Arsene Wenger is searching for a defensive midfielder, and several targets have been identified already—Sky Sports have suggested there's interest in Maxime Gonalons, while The Express have reported the club's admiration of Asier Illarramendi.

Bender enjoyed an incredible 2012-13 season with Bayer Leverkusen, helping them to a third-placed finish just a point shy of UEFA Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund.

He initially made his name as a holding midfielder with a game akin to that of his twin, Sven Bender, but has since added several new layers to his game. 

Four years removed from his footballing education at 1860 Munich, he's now one of the most well-rounded, dynamic midfielders in Europe.

The rejection of the £18.5 million bid is no surprise: He's a quality, national team-standard player in a side who have just lost Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid) and Andre Schurrle (Chelsea).

After all the good work Sami Hyypia has done over the past 12 months to make the Werkself a force in the Bundesliga, it would be a real shame to see it ripped apart in one cash-inflated summer.

Joern Pollex/Getty Images

But that won't stop Wenger from bidding again should he value Bender enough, and the Frenchman would be wise to continue his pursuit of the German.

Why? Because he's the perfect tonic for the Gunners' midfield three, and it's not often such tactical fits arise on the market.

We've covered the player before here at B/R, singing his praises as a player who can play almost any role—be it disciplined, box-to-box or roaming—and slot into most top sides.

He's an immense tackler, picking up just a single yellow card in the Bundesliga last season despite making 35 starts in central midfield. In the UEFA Europa League, he recovered possession 40 times while giving away just three free kicks.

His technique as a tackler is sublime, and while his tracking isn't quite on par with his brother's, he's still a reliable worker when it comes to the gritty stuff.

This is what Arsenal need, a player with great defensive instinct and the ability to truly shield a back four. Mikel Arteta has stepped in and done his side a favour, but he's not cut out for the role and Arsenal cannot win a title with the Spaniard in that position.

Bender's explosive runs and cutting passes are an added bonus, making him a unpredictable threat in midfield who can play in almost any formation.

As it stands, he would slot into Wenger's 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 hybrid seamlessly, partnering Jack Wilshere and feeding Santi Cazorla.

£18.5 million is a lot, and to up the bid means Wenger would be spending more than £20 million on a player. That's unheard of in North London, but if Ivan Gazidis has anything to do with it, things are about to change.

 

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