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Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Darren Bent moves to Aston Villa in record deal

Bent defends move from Sunderland to Villa

Aston Villa have smashed their transfer record in signing Sunderland and England striker Darren Bent in a deal which could eventually cost them £24m.

The 26-year-old has completed a medical and his deal will tie him to the West Midlands club until June 2015.

"The fee starts at £18m, rising with add-ons to £24m," explained BBC Radio 5 live reporter Pat Murphy.

The England player could make his debut in Saturday's Premier League clash with Manchester City at Villa Park.

His move to the Midlands outfit smashes Villa's previous transfer record when they paid £12m for James Milner from Newcastle in August 2008, a fee matched the following year when Stewart Downing joined from Middlesbrough.

Bent signing shows Villa ambition - Houllier

Villa boss Gerard Houllier said: "We are absolutely delighted to have Darren here and we know he will be a tremendous asset for the months and the years ahead.

"His arrival sends out a clear message about our ambition. We've brought him down here to spearhead our efforts and to help build something strong and lasting at our club."

London-born Bent, who began his career at Ipswich and has also played for Charlton and Tottenham, said: "I'm delighted to join Aston Villa. This is a big, big opportunity for me.

"I had some good times at Sunderland, but that's all behind me now and I'm just looking forward to getting going. We have a tough, tough game now against Manchester City and if I can play, hopefully I can help to start getting some points on the board."

Bent denied his move was motivated by higher wages at Villa, claiming: "I could could have gone to West Ham for more money when I left Charlton but chose Tottenham for footballing reasons. It is the same here.

"People have asked why I swapped a top six club for one currently in the bottom four. But I believe Villa are in a false position, they have been sixth for the past three seasons."

Bent had joined the Black Cats for an initial £10m from Spurs in August 2009 when he signed a four-year deal with the north-east club.


Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was not happy to be losing the England striker.

He said: "It's hugely disappointing that Darren has decided that his future lies away from Sunderland and the players, our supporters and the club as a whole have every right to feel massively let down.

"The timing is especially hard to take, given that we are progressing positively and are in a great position to push on.

"Everyone has been nothing but supportive of Darren in his time at Sunderland but it's obvious he's not been himself in training and we've certainly not seen the best of him in games in recent weeks - and we now understand why.

"I've always stated that my aim is to build a talented, young squad for the long-term to help the club achieve sustained success and I want Sunderland fans to know that our ambitions haven't changed on that front."

Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn added: "Darren has now left the club and it's important we move on quickly.

"We've worked hard in the last 36 hours to get what we feel is a fair price for him. Of course it presents us with significant challenges from a football perspective which we didn't envisage, but we'll deal with it and are working hard to find a solution both in the short-term and more importantly the longer term."

Ipswich: 1.08.2001 (trainee)
joins Charlton: 1.06.2005 (for a fee of £2.5m)
joins Tottenham: 29.06.07 (£16.5m)
joins Sunderland: 5.08.2009 (£10m, plus add-ons)
joins Aston Villa: 18.01.11 (£18m, plus add-ons)

Bent's signing is also a show of faith in manager Gerard Houllier by Villa's American owner Randy Lerner, despite the Frenchman struggling to steer the club away from the relegation zone since taking over in September.

The forward's switch from a club currently sixth in the Premier League to one fourth from bottom of the top flight leaves Bruce with a big void to fill.

Bent scored 25 times last season and has notched 11 goals so far in the current campaign.

Bruce has fellow strikers Asamoah Gyan and on-loan Danny Welbeck, who is currently injured, to call on and, although they have eased the reliance on Bent with 14 goals between them this season, they will have to prove they have the consistency to ease the impact of his departure.

Bent has one of the best strike rates during recent seasons in the Premier League.

Since 2005, he has scored 81 league goals, with only Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Chelsea forward Didier Drogba ahead of him in the scoring charts, with 82.

Although he missed out on selection for the 2010 World Cup last summer, Bent did grab his first international goal in September when he scored after coming on as a substitute in a 3-1 win over Switzerland.

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see also
Phillips questions Bent motives
18 Jan 11 |  Sunderland
Bent seals record Sunderland move
05 Aug 09 |  Sunderland
Bent is North East Player of Year
09 Dec 10 |  Football

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