The German international midfielder who is valued at £15million by Borussia Dortmund has been watched several times by United scouts according to The Sunday Times.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has ruled out spending in January despite being linked with a number of realistic targets, but it looks more likely that any bid for Bender would have come in the summer anyway.
It has been suggested that Ferguson has been impressed by the 23-year-old’s defensive quality, and eyes him as a perfect partner in midfield for Michael Carrick who is having a strong season for the Red Devils.
Bender has endured an injury hit season so far for the reigning Bundesliga champions, who trail current leaders Bayern Munich by 12 points in the title race.
The midfielder enjoyed a successful 2011/12 season however as he helped Dortmund to a double of the Bundesliga title and DFB cup, the German equivalent to the English FA Cup.
Bender was also in Germany’s provisional squad for Euro 2012, only to narrowly miss out on the final selection.
United have also been linked with a move for the more creative Luka Modric in the summer as well as the likes of PSV’s Kevin Strootman, also a reported target for rivals Liverpool.