Manchester United are considering a £15m bid for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender, according to the Daily Mail. The 23-year-old has been struggling with injuries this season and has started only seven Bundesliga games.
The report states the German international has been closely monitored on several occasions this season. Bender has recently signed an extension to his present contract, which will keep him at the Westfalenstadion till 2017.
However, any rumour of a move for the German will run contrary to comments by Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been quoted as confirming no players would be arriving at Old Trafford during the mid-season window. A solution, though, could be that Bender will arrive in Manchester in the summer, after the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
The 71-year-old Scot will be keenly aware of the need to find replacements for veteran midfielders Paul Scholes, 38, and Ryan Giggs, 39, who are nearing, if not already at, the end of their careers; in Scholes' case, a second end. England international Michael Carrick will also need to be replaced, although at 31 he does still offer excellent value in the middle of the park. Among Ferguson's younger options are Anderson, 24, Tom Cleverley, 23, and Darren Fletcher, 28.
Assuming at least one of either Scholes or Giggs steps down in the summer, there would certainly be space at Old Trafford for a young recruit, who could perhaps learn under veterans like Carrick before stepping into an established first team slot. And the addition of Bender will certainly strengthen the squad.
Incidentally, United were also linked with the Dortmund midfielder's brother, Lars Bender, who plays for German club Bayer Leverkusen.
Should the move for Bender not work out, United are also believed to be considering Dutch international Kevin Strootman, who plays for Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven and has also been linked with Arsenal and Tottenham.
Ferguson Targets FA Cup Glory
Meanwhile, Ferguson has now set his eyes on winning the FA Cup. The last time the Old Trafford club won the competition was back in 2004.
The club played West Ham United in a third round fixture on Saturday and needed summer signing Robin van Persie to score yet another late goal, to force a replay. The match ended 2-2 at Upton Park and the replay has been scheduled for 16 January.
"We want to stay in the competition and have a go at winning it. We've had some terrible draws over the years and been knocked out early, we don't enjoy that. For us to be losing 2-1 in that game was amazing given the chances we created and the football we played," Ferguson told the club's official Web site.