Bayer Leverkusen have turned down a €23m (£19.7m) offer from Arsenal for midfielder Lars Bender, according to reports in Germany.
Newspaper Express claims that Arsenal have placed an offer for Bender but have been told by the Bundesliga outfit that the 24-year-old is not for sale.
Bayer are reluctant to sell following André Schürrle's departure to Chelsea earlier this month and right-back Dani Carvajal's recent return to Real Madrid.
Bender signed from 1860 Munich in 2009 and is contracted the Bundesliga side until 2017. His twin brother Sven played a key part for Borussia Dortmund as they reached the Champions League final before losing to Bayern Munich at Wembley.
Bender is part of a growing list of central midfielders who have been linked with a move to Arsenal this summer. Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Celtic’s Victor Wanyama are reportedly targets for the Gunners.
The Gunners are prepared to pay a record-breaking fee to sign Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain and make him the club’s best paid player to ensure they capture the marquee signing Arsene Wenger wants this summer. Arsenal's previous record transfer fee was the £15m paid to Zenit St Petersburg for Andrey Arshavin in 2009.
Arsenal’s board have given Wenger £70m to strengthen the squad this summer. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis claims the club is set to join the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and become one of Europe's financial superpowers.
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