Here’s What You Could Have Won: Arsenal Target Signs New Deal

There are few things more frustrating in football, for me anyway, than a club missing out on a player before he goes onto be a sensation elsewhere. It supposedly happened with Arsenal and Cristiano Ronaldo – with Arsene Wenger going as far as giving the Portuguese a squad number before he joined Manchester United – and they have missed out on another target as Lars Bender has signed a new deal at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Gunners were said to be interested in the Germany international in the summer as they went about shaping a midfield capable of driving the club to a title challenge, but instead they snapped up Mathieu Flamini on a free. And while the Frenchman has proved a massive hit so far this season, Bender is also a brilliant player and would have offered a huge amount to the side.

Last season Bender played 33 Bundesliga games for Bayer, missing only the club’s 2-2 draw with Stuttgart in October.

He won 109/135 tackles and completed 38/61 of his take ons, which suggests how dynamic a player he is. He buzzes from box to box picking apart opponent attacks and spraying passes round the field, but he has also showed his creativity over the last year, creating 31 chances last season and another three this time round, as well as scoring four goals since the start of last year’s Bundesliga.

Bender is a different player to anything Arsenal have now, but if I had to compare him to a current member of the squad then I’d have to say Jack Wilshere. They both have the bite, the energy and the technique to pull a midfield unit on their own but neither are the most prolific in front of goal.

The new contract doesn’t completely rule out any interest that may have been there, but it’ll certainly put some people off.