Gerard Houllier claimed the signing of Darren Bent is a “major milestone” that will send out a message about the club’s ambitions.
“We are absolutely delighted to have him here and we know he will be a tremendous asset for the months and the years ahead,” Houllier said. “His arrival sends out a clear message about the ambition of our football club. We’ve brought him down here to spearhead our efforts and to help build something strong and lasting at our club.”
The signing, for a fee of at least £18million, is a huge win for Houllier on several levels. It shows that Villa’s owner Randy Lerner is happy with the job that Houllier is doing, even though Villa are right above the relegation zone. And it also shows that Houllier and Villa are able to attract players from teams above them in the league.
Bent put in a transfer request at the Stadium of Light yesterday to push through the deal, and said he never had any doubt he wanted to join Villa.
“I’m delighted to join Aston Villa,” he said. “This is a big, big opportunity for me. I had some good times at Sunderland, but that’s all behind me now and I’m just looking forward to getting going. We have a tough, tough game now against Manchester City and if I can play, hopefully I can help to start getting some points on the board. With Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, there’s a fantastic supply line. It’ just up to me to work on my finishing and try to put the chances away.”
Good point there from Bent about Downing and Young. He has never had the kind of service from the wings that Villa can give him and it will be interesting to see how many goals he can score with good consistent crosses from these two.