Villa trying to recoup most of Bent fee

Aston Villa

Aston Villa believe they could get £18million for Darren Bent in January, despite the England striker having not started since October.

Villa officials view Bent as a valuable striker – although boss Paul Lambert has given him few opportunities to prove it in the past six weeks.

It is claimed that Villa will look for a fee of at least £18million for the 28-year-old ex-Sunderland and Spurs striker who has had injury problems in the last 18 months.

Bent, who cost Villa over £20million, submitted a transfer request at Sunderland in January 2011 and scored nine goals in 16 appearances to help Martin O’Neill’s side finish ninth that season as he finished as the fourth-highest goalscorer in the top-flight.

Things began to turn sour in the 2011/12 campaign when Bent caused controversy after a fan posted a picture and claimed the striker was out shopping while his team-mates were losing 2-0 to Liverpool.

He hurt his ankle and missed the final three months of the season as his goalscoring return dropped off to nine from 21 starts in the league.

Lambert’s preference for Christian Benteke has signalled the end of Bent’s time at the club for a while but they will need to find a desperate buyer to recoup as much of the purchase fee that they want.

Liverpool are looking to strengthen their forward options in January, as are QPR who are the only club to have scored fewer league goals than Villa, but R’s boss Harry Redknapp is not thought to be keen on Bent.

Redknapp sold Bent from Spurs to Sunderland in 2009 after publicly disparaging his finishing prowess in a post-match interview.