Arsene Wenger has identified Lars Bender as his No1 summer target to strengthen Arsenal’s midfield.
Manager Wenger wants a midfield general to strengthen the Gunners' squad and sees the Bayer Leverkusen anchorman as the ideal fit.
More importantly, Wenger believes Bender would add physical presence and technical ability to his midfield, giving the defence more protection.
Arsenal believe they may have to pay up to £20m to get Bender, who could be an ideal replacement for Mikel Arteta. The 32-year-old Spaniard also has just one year left on his contract.
Cross also mentions that Wenger has Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic on his "radar," in case Pep Guardiola decides to cash in to strengthen other areas of his squad, namely their defense, seeing that Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski's arriving in Munich later this summer.
Lars Bender, from everything I've seen, would add tremendous technical ability on and off the ball, and would be more than comfortable holding the ground around him to allow Aaron Ramsey to bomb forward and support the attack.
Arsenal went after Bender last summer, seeing a bid around £19 million rejected. With Leverkusen sitting three points behind Schalke for the Bundesliga's last automatic Champions League spot with two matches left to play, and with WfL Wolfsburg a mere point behind them, the Nordrhein-Westfalen club might be more apt to sell if the table stays relatively the same come the end of the season and Arsenal come knocking on their door again.