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Manchester City to lure Lars Bender from Bayer Leverkusen?

Manchester City (5/2 with Coral to win the 2015/16 Premier League) could target Bayer Leverkusen midfield shield Lars Bender as they seek to strengthen their squad this summer, with the Bundesliga battler emerging as a possible alternative to Juventus powerhouse Paul Pogba.

Germany engine room enforcer Bender, who has 19 caps for his country, has impressed consistently at the BayArena in his six seasons at the club, where he is also captain.

Twin brother of Borussia Dortmund’s Sven, Lars has long been highly-rated outside Germany and could now finally make a move away from his home nation.

Previously reported admirers of the defensive midfield man, Arsenal and Manchester United, appear to have other targets in mind, leaving the door open for City to swoop for the 26-year-old.

Bender is yet to taste significant silverware success, having missed out on Die Mannschaft’s 2014 World Cup win through ill-timed injury, with his best ever finish in the Bundesliga as runner-up with Leverkusen in 2011, so a switch to the Citizens would surely be appealing.

The Sky Blues need to rebuild an ageing squad that surrendered the Premier League title to Chelsea this season, and are also aiming for a stronger challenge in the Champions League, with midfield a key area in need of fresh legs.

In Bayer star Bender, City could claim a reliable performer able to knit together defence and attack, and may be able to poach him from Germany for as little as £25m.

The best of Bender:

With other areas of the side in need of a makeover, Bender would be a solid signing, allowing Manuel Pellegrini to splash out on his often rickety rearguard and also add a new forward to the ranks, should high-profile names such as Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic exit the Etihad.

Meanwhile, in midfield, grafter James Milner has already agreed a free transfer to Liverpool, while loan star Frank Lampard will finally head to the MLS. With doubts over Yaya Toure’s future too, there is certainly space for a new recruit.

It is widely believed that the blue half of Manchester’s top target is Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, who spent time in cross-town rivals Man Utd’s academy before opting to transfer to Turin on a bosman.

However, the 22-year-old may still stay put this summer as Juve recover from their Champions League final defeat to Barcelona. Should the Frenchman suddenly become available though, City would likely face huge competition for the starlet’s signature, with mooted fees of £70m also a potential stumbling block, making Bender appear a relative bargain in comparison.