Arsenal are linked with two of the world’s top defensive midfielders ahead of the opening of the summer transfer window.
The Gunners have relied on the services of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini this term but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is expected to bring in a midfield enforcer to provide more protection to his back line this summer after the North Londoners were exposed against their title rivals this term.
Bayer Leverkusen star and Germany international has been linked with interest from Arsenal for several transfer windows in succession now but this window could be the one, according to reports. The 25-year-old has emerged as one of Germany’s most gifted performers in his position alongside the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira.
However, Schweinsteiger’s teammate at Bayern Munich Javi Martinez has recently emerged as an alternative target for the Gunners following Lars Bender’s signing of a new deal to stay on in the Bundesliga in October and his comments this week that he would prefer to stay at Leverkusen to whom he is now contracted until the summer of 2019.
Spain international Martinez only arrived at the Allianz Arena two years ago from Athletic Bilbao after the Bundesliga champions paid his buyout clause of €40 million. His contract runs until 2017 but he has found himself playing less regularly under Pep Guardiola, making just 17 appearances in the Bundesliga of which just 13 were starts.
Martinez, also 25, has experience in both his native Spain and in Germany where Bender has experience only in the Bundesliga – Martinez also has more experience in the Champions League which he won with the Bavarians last term and, at international level, Martinez has medals for the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2012 with Spain.
However, Bender has more caps to his name at international level – he has made 17 appearances for Germany to Martinez’ 15 appearances so far – I would suspect, given his recent comments and his contract renewal Bender would be the tougher to lure away and it would certainly take a sizeable fee to acquire either of the Bundesliga stars.
Martinez is the taller of the pair at 6ft3” and would likely find it easier to adapt to the Premier League given his superior experience in continental matches but Bender would likely suit the Gunners better and would find himself at home alongside his national team colleagues Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker.
In my estimation, Arsenal will find it tough to sign either of the Bundesliga enforcers this summer, given their contractual situations with their clubs and their hefty fees which is likely to make Arsene Wenger pursue other targets but if the French coach was going to pick one, I would think Lars Bender would be his preferred option as he has played more regularly for a number of seasons than Javi Martinez.