Bent signing is a masterstroke for Villa

by Ryan Ghee

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Darren Bent’s transfer from Europa League-chasing Sunderland to relegation-threatened Aston Villa has raised more than a few eyebrows. The timing of the move, the huge transfer fee and the motivation at the heart of the player’s decision all lend themselves to the debate that has suddenly enveloped football fans across the country. Once the dust settles, however, what will become clear is that Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier and Chairman Randy Lerner have pulled off a masterstroke of epic proportions.

Before even considering the direct impact that the striker will have on the pitch, the record-breaking transfer has had an immediate effect on the atmosphere surrounding the club. All of a sudden, the gloom and pessimism of recent months has been replaced with delight and optimism for what lies ahead. It may have taken the best part of five months, but almost out of the blue, Houllier has finally won over the Villa fans.

The transfer fee has been the main divider of opinion. Is the striker who failed to even make Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad last summer really worth as much as £24 million? He may have his doubters but the statistics certainly suggest that he could well be worth every single penny.

It has been well documented that only two players – Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba – have scored more Premier League than Bent since August 2005; a fact that highlights the reliable and prolific goalscoring nature of Villa’s newest addition. A total of 32 goals in just 58 games for Sunderland equals an impressive record of a goal every 1.8 games and even this season, one in which many commentators suggest he has underperformed, Bent has stilled netted eight times in his 20 league appearances.

Doubters will point to Bent’s stint at Tottenham (18 goals in 60 appearances) as proof that he may not be the prolific goalscorer that Aston Villa are quite clearly expecting but his record at Charlton (31 in 68 appearances) again highlights the striker’s potency in front of goal.

As for Aston Villa, the club has been crying out for a 20-goal-a-season striker to sharpen what has for all too long been a rather blunt front line. Not since the 2003/04 season has a Villa player found the net at least 20 times in a season, when Juan Pablo Angel netted 23 times. Before Angel, Dwight Yorke was the last man to achieve the feat, in the 1996/97 season.

Furthemore, this season, only fellow strugglers Birmingham, Wigan, Fulham and West Ham have scored fewer than the Villans and the front line of Agbonlahor, Heskey, Carew and Delfouneso have only a mustered four league goals between them.

The more you look at it, the clearer it becomes as to why Randy Lerner has decided to part with as much as £24 million for Darren Bent. For Villa, the arrival of a striker who should just be approaching his peak and who boasts a proven track record in the Premier League could not have come at a better time.

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  • TJ

    Good article. Finally someone making sense of the deal.

    £18+ million is a lot, but don’t forget thats about the same as we got for Milner. Its not like we are spending beyond our means with this transfer, or putting all our eggs in one basket with Makoun, Walker already in and Figueroa/Adam/Spahic/Smithies all very strongly rumoured to be on the way.

    We have needed a goal scorer for a decade. We now have one, we have paid a high price for it but it is exactly what we need. This is not an avoid relegation signing – Bent would not have come for that. This is a first major step from Houllier back towards challenging the top 5. We almost have the players to do it, all that is now required is a couple of additions and some form to carry in to next season.

  • john

    we actually got Stephen Ireland for Milner as well . So more like 24/26 million…

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