Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender has drawn a line under the speculation regarding his future by extending his contract at the club until 2019.
The Germany international has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months, with Premier League giants Arsenal and Manchester United reported to be interested in the highly rated 24-year-old.
However, Bender - whose previous deal with the club ran until 2017 - has moved to distance himself from the transfer-related rumors by inking a two-year extension at the BayArena, citing a desire to be apart of the team's further evolution as a primary reason for his stay.
"Here at Bayer we have evolved in recent years, something very positive," the ex-1860 Munich man told the club's official website. "Our team is is strong and has the potential to become even better. I want to be part of this story and to make my contribution so that we can establish ourselves at the top. Bayer have become a great passion for me, I feel comfortable in this club and it gives me a lot of pleasure to play here."
The club's sporting director, Michael Schade, went on to describe Bender as the "cornerstone" of the team.
"Lars Bender has developed a lot at Bayer Leverkusen and become an international player," said Schade. "He is a very important cornerstone in our team and a popular figure for Werkself fans."
Leverkusen currently sits third in the Bundesliga, level on points with Borussia Dortmund and one point adrift of defending champion Bayern Munich.
Likewise, the German outfit has enjoyed a positive continental campaign thus far, with Sami Hyypia's men sitting one point off Group A leader Manchester United in the Champions League.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United