Manchester United are keeping a close eye on the progress of Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender after a string of impressive performances for club and country.

The Daily Mail has reported that Manchester United have sent scouts to watch Bender on a number of occasions this season while playing for Leverkusen and Germany.

Lars Bender
Bender [left] celebrates with his Leverkusen teammates [Reuters]

Joachim Loew handed Bender his first international cap just over a year ago when he came on as a substitute against Poland and he has gone on to impress, making numerous appearances at Euro 2012.

Despite normally being deployed in the centre of midfield he was used as a right-back throughout the European Championships in the summer and even scored when playing in that position in the final group game against Denmark.

Bender has started eight games for Leverkusen this season, particularly impressing last weekend as he helped the side gain a 2-1 win over bitter rivals Bayern Munich, inflicting a first defeat on Jupp Heynckes' team this season.

The Mail has reported that Bayern Munich attempted to sign Bender in the summer, but Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller did not want to let one of his star players join their great rivals.

The 23-year-old has played more than 100 games for Leverkusen since joining from 1860 Munich in the summer of 2009, having first come to prominence when helping the Germany Under-19 side with the 2008 European Championships.

Manchester United have continually been linked with numerous midfielders after a summer in which many people questioned why Sir Alex Ferguson spent the majority of his transfer fund on improving his forward options by signing Robin van Persie.

Ferguson does have a number of options in midfield, however, with Paul Scholes coming to the end of a long and successful career it is likely that Manchester United will look to buy either in January or at the end of the season.