Man Utd replace Strootman on their shopping list with German

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Approaching two complete seasons since the end of Sir Alex Feguson’s reign at Manchester United, the club still seek a solution to the central-midfield problems the Scot highlighted as he retired.

It’s not that they haven’t explored a number of different avenues to find the dominant centre-circle dweller that will help return them to the summit of the Premier League, they just haven’t signed one yet.

A regular name aligned to an Old Trafford arrival in that department is Kevin Strootman, the Dutch midfielder at AS Roma, but it seems another injury setback has finally dissuaded the Red Devils from making him their man.

In his place comes a new name: Lars Bender. The 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen star has reportedly been tagged on to the end of Louis van Gaal’s midfield shopping list, although the former Holland coach will have to battle Arsenal for his signature.

The Gunners have trailed Bender for a considerable amount of time, but will be perturbed by the fact that United scouts have now been present at the last two Leverkusen matches.

Twin brother of Borussia Dortmund star Sven, Lars has made 19 appearances for the German national side since becoming a regular at Leverkusen in 2009.

With Michael Carrick approaching the twilight of his career and Daley Blind still developing as a midfield force, Van Gaal clearly feels he needs more recruits in that area if he is to progress the club.

Currently the FA Cup is United’s best chance of silverware, with Arsenal their next obstacles on the route to Wembley. Ladbrokes have United as 6/4 favourites to progress to the competition’s semi-finals at the Gunners’ expense, with the north Londoners 19/10 shots for victory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.