Wednesday 21 March 2018

Bruce fury at Bent betrayal after £24m move to Villa

Aston Villa boss Gerrard Houllier presents new signing Darren Bent to the media last night after completing his £24m move from Sunderland. Photo: Getty Images
Aston Villa boss Gerrard Houllier presents new signing Darren Bent to the media last night after completing his £24m move from Sunderland. Photo: Getty Images

Sam Wallace

steve bruce last night accused Darren Bent of betraying the Sunderland fans and failing to perform in recent weeks after the striker's £24m transfer to Aston Villa finally went through, hinting at the tensions that are known to have existed between the pair for some time.

The confirmation of Bent's switch was delayed yesterday over talks to resolve the significant proportion of the player's transfer fee that was owed by Sunderland to former club Spurs under a sell-on clause.

The player himself was in Birmingham all day, but Villa officials were made to wait before they could finally release pictures of Bent in his new club shirt at 5.0. The acrimony over the deal for Bent, who has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract worth around £80,000-a-week, was evident in Bruce's subsequent attack on him.

He left Sunderland with a stinging rebuke from his former manager, who accused the England international, who has scored just one goal in his past eight league games, of allowing the transfer to affect his form.

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

"The timing is especially hard to take, given that we are progressing positively. Everyone has been nothing but supportive of Darren, 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."

The Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn said: "It's important we move on quickly. We've worked hard in the last 36 hours to get a fair price. Of course it presents us with significant challenges from a football perspective which we didn't envisage, but we are working hard to find a solution."

It is understood that Tottenham are now due a total of around £16m from Sunderland for Bent -- which includes the original fee when he left Spurs in July 2009. The original figure quoted for Bent's transfer from Spurs to Sunderland was £10m, but it is thought that not all that fee, which was to be paid in instalments, had been received by the London club before yesterday's deal.

What does appear to be the case is that Spurs are owed the balance on more than £16m, which diminished the returns for Sunderland on the sale of their most high-profile player. However, hanging onto Bent was never a viable option for them once the proposed deal went public.

The sale of Bent represents a triumph for Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, whose policy of recouping transfer fees on young players who do not make the grade at Spurs is proving successful. Levy sanctioned the £16.5m deal with Charlton for Bent to join Spurs in 2007. After two years in which Bent struggled to establish himself under Juande Ramos and Harry Redknapp, Levy still maintained that his original valuation was correct.

That Spurs are now due their full £16m-plus as a result of the Villa deal would appear to vindicate this stance. While Villa waited on the completion of the Bent deal, they have reconciled themselves to selling Ashley Young in the summer, with Manchester United his most likely destination.

The bold move for Bent has demonstrated Randy Lerner's faith in manager Gerard Houllier, but the fee is expected to be recouped by the sale of Young at the end of the season. The England international's deal runs out in the summer of 2012 and he has told the club that he will not sign another.

Although Young (25) will have only 12 months to run on his contract come June, the club expect him to command a fee of around £20m that reflects his status as one of the best young players in England. While he has been linked with Liverpool and Chelsea in the past, Alex Ferguson is said to want United make serious moves to sign Young.

  • Steven Pienaar has reached an agreement to join Spurs in a £3m deal. The Everton midfielder, a transfer target for both Tottenham and Chelsea, made his decision clear on Twitter yesterday, and an official Spurs statement later confirmed they were "delighted" to have reached agreement with both Pienaar and Everton. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport