With the end of the season just two weekends away, thoughts begin to turn to the summer transfer window, and for some clubs, these thoughts may well include Darren Bent.
The England striker has never been too far away from transfer speculation considering an unquestionable knack for scoring goals coupled with a relatively ephemeral shelf-life.
Since leaving his boyhood club, Ipswich, Bent has moved from club to club in a remarkably consistent pattern, spending between 60 to 80 games with each team.
In 2007 he left Charlton Athletic after two years and 79 appearances, to move to Tottenham, where he went on to play for another two years and 79 appearances. Upon leaving Tottenham, the striker spent 2 years at Sunderland playing 63 competitive games, before joining Aston Villa in 2010, where he now sits on… wait for it… 63 appearances.
For the love of meaningless statistics and all things symmetrical, it would seem fitting if Bent was to finish the season without playing another game for the club, and once again, move on in the summer. Thankfully, with the way things have been shaping up recently, there is a very good chance of this neat finish coming to fruition.
Whilst admittedly struggling with a succession of ankle, hamstring and knee injuries this season, the England Striker has long been out of favour at Villa Park. Since Benteke’s arrival, Bent hasn’t started a single Premier league game, and now finds himself as fourth choice striker behind Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Despite Lambert repeatedly refusing to admit to Bent’s fall from favour, nothing shows a manager’s hand greater than the squad he picks every weekend. Whilst the striker may not have been signed by the current manager, before giving the club’s record signing the bench warming role, it wasn’t so long ago that Lambert gave the same striker, the more prestigious role of Villa captain when Stiliyan Petrov first fell ill.
As things are, it seems Darren Bent and Villa are destined to part. With Benteke’s arrival proving such a resounding success, along with the emergence of Weimann, and the rejuvenation of Agbonlahor, Villa’s front line looks to be progressing in a different direction that has no space for the once England frontman.
Which begs the question, Where next for Darren Bent?
If you take a look at Bent’s record, he has scored over 182 goals in 438 competitive matches, with 102 of those coming in the premier league. Another stat that proves his pedigree lies in his collection of in-club accolades. The striker has been crowned club’s top scorer at every single team he has played for. In fact, in the eight seasons, stretching from 2004/05 to 2011/12 (last season), he topped his clubs’ scoring charts seven times, failing only once in his first season at Tottenham.
For a club wanting a player who can guarantee goals in the top flight, few candidates will come close to matching the pedigree of this devastating finisher, who at 29 still has at least one club-rotation left in him.
Bent works extremely well when playing alongside a big forward who can hold up the ball and play him into space so he can use his speed. For instance he was at his most prolific, when playing at Sunderland, where he struck up a devastating partnership with Kenwyne Jones.
If the Villa man is to regain some of his old form, and perhaps even make a late charge for Roy Hodgson’s World Cup Squad next year, I think he would do well at Stoke or Norwich, alongside a target man such as Peter Crouch or Grant Holt.
Where do you think Bent would be most suited? Would you have him at your club?
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