Arsenal will struggle to convince Bayer Leverkusen to part with Lars Bender this summer, according to Sky Germany journalist Jan Aage Fjortoft.
Reports emerged on Wednesday afternoon claiming that Arsene Wenger was set to renew his interest in the German international after giving up on Ilkay Gundogan.
The Borussia Dortmund star recently penned a new contract, making Bender Wenger's top choice to replace the ageing Mikel Arteta.
The Arsenal manager had an £18.5m bid rejected by Bayer Leverkusen for Bender last summer but Wenger was ready to test the Bundesliga club's resolve again this summer.
However, according to Fjortoft, who was famed for being one of the first to reveal Arsenal's bid for Mesut Ozil, Leverkusen are just as reluctant to sell this summer as they were last.
Speaking on his Twitter account, he said that Leverkusen are in a strong enough financial position to reject any offer for Bender and the new manager Roger Schmidt, who will take over once the season has finished, wants to keep the club's best players.
The tweet read as follow:
"Re: Lars Bender to Arsenal rumour
- Leverkusen solid funding (Bayer)
- they like to say "not for sale"
- new coach. Best players must stay?"
Leverkusen are currently backed by a pharmaceutical company, allowing them to reject any offer the Gunners may submit in the summer.
It may force Wenger to look for a further midfielder depending on how desperate he is to replace Arteta. The vice-captain has one-year left on his current deal and Wenger is still undecided on whether to offer him an extension.
Some reports suggest that the decision has already been made: Arteta will be released this summer. But history suggests that Wenger will make a decision based on Arteta's ability to make an impact at the Emirates Stadium next season.
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