Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stepped up his interest in Lars Bender after failing to agree personal terms with Sami Khedira, reports The Daily Star.
The Frenchman was hoping to agree a deal for Real Madrid's World Cup winning midfielder Khedira after agreeing a fee in the region of £20 million. Upon entering negotiations over personal terms, it quickly became clear that a deal was never going to happen.
Khedira demanded a basic wage of around £150,000-a-week. Such a wage would make him Arsenal's highest ever player and Wenger was not willing to go that high.
Now Wenger is ready to up his interest in Bayer Leverkusen star Bender, who represents a genuine alternative to Khedira. Both stars play a similar role in the heart of midfield. Bender, 25 is two years younger than Khedira, 27, but would be a much lower key signing than the Real Madrid man.
A fee in the region of £15 million is believed to be enough to convince Leverkusen to sell and Wenger has already shown he has the spending power to make such an offer.
Arsenal have signed Alexis Sanchez for £35 million and Mathieu Debuchy for £11 million. A deal for Bender would take Wenger's spending up £60 million. With an original budget of £100 million, plenty still remains to sign a goalkeeper - Wenger's priority.
Bender would fill a gap in the heart of Arsenal's midfield where Mikel Arteta has struggled to excel in recent seasons. A deep-lying, tough tackler is what Arsenal crave. Arteta was converted from an attacking midfielder and has struggled.
The German international, who missed the World Cup through injury, is widely renowned as one of the toughest tacklers in the Bundesliga and would join a growing German contingent at the Emirates, which includes Mesut Ozil, Serge Gnabry, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski