According to news reports today, Aston Villa have made a major move to fill a desperate need, signing Darren Bent from Sunderland for a reported £18 million transfer fee.
At the moment, the Black Cats are 12 points ahead of the relegation zone, where Villa reside at the moment. Will this be a reversal of fortunes for the two clubs? It will be interesting to see what Sunderland does with the money recouped from Bent’s sale. Will they try to secure Danny Welbeck long term? Will they go after another striker (the Soccernet story purports Michael Owen to be a potential target)? Steve Bruce’s connection to Sir Alex makes these two possibilities feasible. While Welbeck is secure under loan for the remainder of the season, Sunderland would almost certainly look for a long term option, if not in this window the next.
For Villa, this should help them get out of relegation trouble and finish respectably. Gerard Houllier has certainly caused some supporters to question his handling of the club thus far, but adding Bent should add stability and quality to the front line. It is a steep price to pay, but they did have unspent funds from the transfer of James Milner to Manchester City. Randy Lerner needed to make a statement to reassure fans that he was committed to winning football, and this move is a step towards that end.
Would Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan be enough of a striker tandem to help Sunderland secure a Europa League slot? I don’t believe so. They have 13 goals between the two of them, but one wonders if those goal totals look differently without a dangerman like Bent drawing a defense’s attention. My opinion is that Sunderland have lost a major component to their attack, and need to make a push to fill Bent’s shoes in order to maintain a top half finish.