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OPINION: Lars Bender: An alternative to Toni Kroos?

Much speculation has surrounded the future of Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos, with the club stating they intend to keep hold of him and offer him a new contract at the end of the season. In the meantime Manchester United should keep a look out for other players to bring in if Kroos stays at Bayern. Among those players to watch should be Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender.

Lars Bender is one of the best young German midfielders in the world, and would be a solid addition to our midfield as he is a utility player. He can play along side Michael Carrick in a defensive midfield role or be pushed forward in a number ten role behind the striker, although with Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa compliant in this position, it is unlikely. He could even be used as a right back if the situation calls for it. The German reads the game well and has a high work rate which is something we have lacked in midfield at times this season.

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In the 25 matches he has featured in this season he has helped out his defenders by winning 248 duels and 94 tackles while at the same time creating chances at the other end with nine shots on target and a 78% pass accuracy in attacking areas. He is a player who likes to sit and dictate the tempo of games completing 982 passes this season which is proof of his distribution skills. As a right back he is very composed and strong tackler and always manages to be in the right place at the right time to either set up a goal or, score one himself.

Lars Bender does have weaknesses; he is not a very physical player and he is, on occasion, not quite quick enough to beat defenders and gets knocked off the ball when going shoulder to shoulder with a defender. Luckily, these are both aspects of his game he can work at and improve. He has an estimated price tag of £19.5 million (according to Transfermarkt) and is a player I feel David Moyes should keep an eye on during the next transfer window.

By Sean Gilmartin

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