Lars Bender
Arsenal make an offer of €23m for Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender. [Reuters]

Bayer Leverkusen have rejected a £23m bid from Arsenal for star midfielder Lars Bender, according to reports in Germany.

The German side have already lost two of their most influential players, Andre Schurrle joining Chelsea and Dani Carvajal returning to Real Madrid, and are determined not to lose any more members of their first team squad.

Arsenal are reported to have made an offer of €23m that was rejected by Leverkusen who enjoyed a successful season under Sami Hyypia, finishing in third place and qualifying for the Champions League in the process. reveals that it was the second time that Arsenal had made an offer for Bender as they look to strengthen their squad after a season which ultimately ended in success as they once again qualified for Europe's elite competition.

There have plenty of reports that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will have significant funds to spend this summer and the north London club have already been strongly linked with big money moves for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain and Everton's Marouane Fellaini.

While there has yet to be an official bid for Fellaini, Arsenal are in advanced talks with Higuain and it seems they hoped to also be able to announce a deal for Bender.

The 24 year old signed from 1860 Munich back in 2009 and has gone on to make nearly 150 appearances for Leverkusen, but has previously criticised the club for failing to hang on to their best players.

Sporting director Rudi Voller has promised that more players will arrive as Leverkusen have already signed South Korean prospect Heung-Min Son and are said to be pursuing Saint-Etienne's in demand striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal may hope that another increased bid may tempt Leverkusen to part with Bender but it is already a major sign of intent from Wenger who was willing to smash the club's transfer record on the midfielder.