Lars Bender pens new Leverkusen deal
Germany international midfielder Lars Bender has signed a new six-year contract with Bayer Leverkusen.
Bender, 24, had been linked with a move to Arsenal, but has now committed his future to the Bundesliga side until 2019.
The older twin brother of Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender has won 15 caps for Germany and is a candidate for coach Joachim Loew's 2014 World Cup squad.
Leverkusen's vice-captain had repeatedly been linked with a switch to Premier League, with the Gunners reported to have had an offer of 22 million euros rejected in the summer transfer window.
Leverkusen described retaining one of their key players as "a clear signal" in a press release.
"There have been very positive developments in recent years," Bender told the club's official website. "We have a strong squad and the potential to get even better. I want to be part of that story and do my share in permanently establishing Leverkusen at the top."
Leverkusen finished the 2012-13 season in third place, a point behind Borussia Dortmund, and after 10 matches this season are again ranked third, level with Dortmund and a point behind leaders Bayern Munich. That trio has already opened a nine-point gap over fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach.
"Bayer 04 have become a great passion of mine. I just feel great at the club and it gives me a whole lot of pleasure playing here," Bender said.
"We were right in our judgement of Lars when we signed him from 1860 Munich as a young player four years ago," sporting director Rudi Voeller said.
"He has more than fulfilled the high expectations and has also proved himself as a strong lad off the pitch. Lars is a leader. Every team needs such a character to play successful football."