"I'm staying!" - Arsenal handed setback in pursuit of German international

Lars Bender

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender has handed Arsenal a blow by saying that he plans to stay with the Bundesliga outfit.

Arsenal have secured a top four spot yet again, meaning they will be in next season's Champions League, which may seem somewhat disappointing to Gunners fans after a prolonged title challenge, but it continues manager Arsene Wenger's consistency over recent seasons.

Having competed for so long at the summit of the Premier League this season, supporters will believe that they can go one step further next term, but Wenger may need to spend some cash in order to improve the squad this summer, and one of the prime positions of concern for Wenger will be in defensive midfield.

Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta have performed admirably in patches but the Gunners certainly need a long-term solution in front of the back four, and Bayer Leverkusen star Bender had been tipped as a prime target for Arsenal this summer having impressed in Germany.

But Wenger has been dealt a blow ahead of this summer's transfer market, as the 25-year-old has told of his intention to stay with Leverkusen - even suggesting that he hasn't been good enough this season to play elsewhere.

"I feel settled here and see no reason to change anything," said Bender. "In fact, if I am to be completely honest, I haven’t had an overly brilliant season and don’t feel ready yet to take on a pivotal role at a big club somewhere else."

"I need to keep working on my game, and I am going to do that here at Leverkusen. That suits me, and I am happy with that."

With that admission, Wenger will need to go back to the drawing board in search of holding midfield targets - which could involve former Gunner Alex Song, who is tipped to leave Barcelona this summer.

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