Arsenal step up hunt for midfield muscle with German star

No side’s need in the summer transfer window is as clear as Arsenal’s. If the north Londoners only sign one player during the off season, then a new central midfielder must be the target.

Thankfully for Gunners fans, it seems Arsene Wenger is on board with that way of thinking, as reports that the Frenchman is lining up a serious bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender emerges.

According to the Sun on Sunday, an £18m bid for the midfield man is in the offing, which if successful would fill a serious hole in the squad of next season’s 9/2 title hopefuls.

Although Francis Coquelin was one of the finds of the season once he came in to Wenger’s midfield, adding more midfield beef to his squad remained of the upmost important for the Premier League’s longest-serving manager.

Bender, who has also found himself linked with Manchester City and Liverpool this summer, would certainly add more meat to the Gunners’ middle-band, but remains a pleading passer of the football too, which fits in to Wenger’s possession-based philosophy.

Bender has played 163 times and scored 15 goals for Bayer Leverkusen since moving to the BayArena from 1860 Munich in 2009, while the 19 caps he has won in a talent-packed German national side indicate the qualities he’ll bring to the Emirates.

At the age of 26, the Rosenheim native is still to enter his footballing prime too, so the move must appeal to Arsenal on all fronts.

Coquelin, who entered the Gunners first-team in late December and made the anchorman role his own, will need some competition for his place if he is to continue developing as a player and neither Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini, who both received criticism for their performances in the role this season, are able to provide that any longer.

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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.