Lars Bender rules out Bayer Leverkusen exit

The highly-rated midfielder has pledged his future to the BayArena side after reports continued to link him with a transfer to Bayern Munich
Bayer Leverkusen star Lars Bender has ruled out the possibility of joining Bayern Munich this summer, insisting that he is happy with life at the BayArena.

The 23-year-old midfielder has established himself as one of his country's most sought-after talents after developing into a key player at Leverkusen since breaking into the club's first team in 2009.

German sources had claimed earlier on Tuesday that Bayern would have have to offer €25 million to land Bender after having an initial offer turned down, but the midfielder insisted that he is not interested in a new challenge.

"The club have made it very clear to me that I am a key member of the team and that they will not sell me," Bender told Leverkusen's website.

"I recently extended my contract and now I want to take the next step with the club. I will not engage in further speculation."

Leverkusen failed to qualify for the Champions League after finishing fifth in the Bundesliga last season, but Bender is confident that his side will return to the elite continental tournament soon.

"Our goal is clearly to get back into the Champions League," he added. "If everything goes well, then we absolutely have a chance."