United should look to Lars rather than Sven

Wednesday 16th January 2013 10:24

Lars and Sven Bender: Both linked with Manchester United

Lars and Sven Bender: Both linked with Manchester United

TEAMtalk guest Ross Dunbar believes Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender would be a better fit for Manchester United than his brother Sven.

Sir Alex Ferguson has certainly been impressed by Borussia Dortmund in the past year.

His visit to Berlin for the DFB Pokal final was to purposefully scour over Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa, which the Red Devils followed through on with a £10million switch to Old Trafford - but the manner of their destructive 5-2 thrashing of FC Bayern has left a lasting impression on the Manchester United manager.

Not only has Robert Lewandowski - who scored a fantastic hat-trick in the final - been high on their radar but reports have suggested Mats Hummels, Mario Götze and even Roman Weidenfeller have popped up on Sir Alex's transfer wishlist, and over the weekend, dominant defensive-midfielder Sven Bender was touted for a possible move to Manchester to form a midfield partnership with Michael Carrick.

The 23-year-old imposing Dortmund midfielder had been tied down to Signal Iduna Park until the summer of 2016 - but Jurgen Klopp and sporting director Michael Zorc made moves on Sunday evening to extend Bender's long-term contract for an extra 12 months.

He joined 24-year-old Neven Subotic in penning a renegotiated deal, as Dortmund look to build on their recent dominance of the German domestic scene and secure success in the UEFA Champions League.

Bender has only featured eight times in the German Bundesliga this season following a difficult time through injury with a hernia problem ruling him out for over a month, added to a recent groin strain that kept him out for three weeks. However, his importance in the Dortmund side should not be underestimated - and Klopp has done everything in his power to include Bender in Dortmund's demanding fixtures this season.

The midfielder started all but one of their six Champions League group stage matches and was outstanding in their 1-1 league draw with FC Bayern in the Allianz Arena at the start of December.

Considering the reactions of Dortmund to tie up Bender for another season, they have made their intent quite clear: Sven is not for sale.

But sporadic rumours have also linked his twin brother, Lars, with a move to Old Trafford from Bayer Leverkusen. Similarly, he is tied down to 2017 at the BayArena and is valued in the region of £15million.

Lars developed through the ranks of 2.Bundesliga outfit 1860 Munich alongside Sven before they went their separate ways for Leverkusen and Dortmund, respectively.

Lars has matured and held down a place in Sascha Lewandowski's side that has become the form team of the Bundesliga, FC Bayern aside, in the last six months.

He was part of the 23-man squad that represented Germany at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, and scored his first international goal at the tournament against Denmark, whilst playing as a right full-back.

In comparison with Sven, Lars is more all-action and could be labelled as a box-to-box midfielder, as opposed to a defensive-midfielder - or "Sechser" in German - which literally means wearing the "Number 6" in front of the back-four.

In a similar vein to Darren Fletcher, Lars is comfortable pressing higher up the park, forcing mistakes in earlier positions in the opposition which is an effective way of getting Kagawa, Wayne Rooney or Robin Van Persie in possession earlier.

Alongside Carrick, or Tom Cleverley, the box-to-box nature of Lars makes him a better fit to the balance of the midfield. Added to that, there is the possibility that Leverkusen may be more willing to let their young star go for below £15million, something Borussia Dortmund will extremely reluctant to given the cherry-picking of their championship-winning talent already by Real Madrid and United.

There is hardly much to pick between the two midfielders, contractually, and in terms of value in the transfer market, but there is a slight difference in the style of players in the middle of the park.

Sven is keen to assert his dominance on the game, by holding his deeper position, making interceptions closer to the back-four, as opposed to Lars, who likes to get the job done in the centre of the pitch, or higher up.

Statistically, Lars is the more efficient in the challenge, both aerially and on the ground, with 58% of his tackles won from 367 attempts, compared with Sven's 52.9% successful rate in 172.

Of course, the Leverkusen midfielder has featured almost double the number of league games than Sven, showing the difference in robustness and focus on tackles between the pair.

In the current economic climate, although, perhaps, immune from Manchester United, the decision between which Bender is more suited to Sir Alex's side might just come down to the transfer fee and the willingness to switch to the Premier League.

That said, there is little hope for the Red Devils of securing Sven given the commitment of Dortmund to succeeding in the Champions League this season.

You can follow Ross on Twitter @rossdunbar93



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