Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund will in all likelihood be without Sven Bender from this summer onwards. The 28-year-old defensive all-rounder is set to complete a switch to domestic rivals Bayer Leverkusen, subject to a medical, after informing the board of his desire leave.
"A few days ago I approached Aki Watzke and Michael Zorc, whom I asked for permission to leave BVB after eight years at the club in order to embark upon a new challenge. Even as a young boy, the only thing that mattered to me was getting out onto the pitch. Unfortunately, in recent times I have not played regularly for BVB, which is partly attributable to injuries too. I am very grateful that Borussia Dortmund have respected my wish, despite clearly wanting to keep me. I see that as a sign of great respect," Bender said.
He continued: "The years I've spent in Dortmund have not only shaped my career, but my life and the life of my family too. I would like to thank everyone in charge at the club, my team-mates, my coaches, the staff, the BVB employees and, of course, our unique fans for allowing me to become a part of the Borussia family and I hope that I will be allowed to remain so in the future. We have been through thick and thin together. That has brought us all together and it shall continue to connect us forever!"
Sven Bender – a man who is harder on himself than almost anyone else, who has always been uncompromising in the tackle, yet so fair that he has become the perfect role model for fair play – has achieved some extraordinary things at Borussia Dortmund. The Rosenheim-born defender became a Bundesliga winner in 2011 and 2012, won the DFB Cup in 2012 and 2017, and reached the Champions League final in 2013.
BVB Sporting Director Michael Zorc declared that "it will be difficult for us in both a sporting and a personal capacity to see a leading figure like Sven Bender depart. He came to us with the express wish that he be allowed to embark upon a new challenge." Consequently, all attempts that were made to try to convince Bender to stay "unfortunately failed", according to Zorc.
"It would have obviously been our preference to continue to have Sven Bender as part of our team. On the other hand, however, he is a player who has shown more dedication to BVB than almost any other. And it goes without saying that this dedication means that we listen more closely to what he has to say and that we respect his personal wish," commented Hans-Joachim Watzke. The Chairman of the Board continued: "In all honesty, if it hadn't been Manni, with all his history at the club, putting forward such a request, then we would never have said Yes."
Borussia Dortmund wish Sven Bender, who will play alongside his twin brother Lars in Leverkusen if he successfully completes a medical with the club, all the best for his personal and professional future.
BVB will always regard "Iron Manni" as an integral member of the BVB family.