Reports all over England have placed Darren Bent at Craven Cottage next season, and the move has since been confirmed by Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway. Bent is apparently undergoing a medical at Fulham.
According to Holloway, the want-away Aston Villa frontman was ready to sign for Palace this morning before Fulham swooped in to seal his signature.
There is still some discrepancy on whether the deal is a loan or permanent deal. Sky Sports’ Graeme Bailey suggested it would be permanent, as did the original Sky report, but most other reports say it’s a loan deal with no permanent option, Fulham responsible for all wages, and a hefty fee paid to Aston Villa. Sky Sports were the first to report the striker’s medical.
The Crystal Palace manager was left frustrated by his club’s failure to get the striker, saying ‘Fulham could wait a lot longer than we could so we’ve tried to force it, they’ve stepped in, took our deal. I was told last night he was coming to us. I was told this morning he was coming to us. It’s life. There are bigger sharks than us. My chairman’s going to have to get used to that.”
Bent has been set to leave Aston Villa ever since the meteoric rise of Cristian Benteke last season. The 29-year-old Englishman had his breakout year in the 2009/10 season with Sunderland, but has disappointed since then, and scored just three league goals last year while Benteke ran teams ragged.
It’s a bit puzzling why Fulham would want their man on a loan deal, considering how many players they currently have on loan, plus their other main striker Dimitar Berbatov is in the final year of his contract and at the age of 32 may not return for another season.
In addition, it’s confusing as to why Villa would want to keep Bent on their books and not receive a transfer fee for his services. With Benteke firmly entrenched in the starting striker role, Bent only serves as cover at the moment. It would seem that since nobody would pony up their £6 million ($9.3 million) evaluation of Bent, so the loan was plan B to get him out. Still confusing though that it wouldn’t include an option to buy at the end of the loan.
The deal certainly isn’t complete, with the medical still remaining as a major hurdle. Fulham’s medical is world-renowned for being one of the most rigorous in Europe, requiring two days to complete on most occasions.
UPDATE: Fulham Manager Martin Jol held his prematch press conference today, and refused to comment on the Bent situation. However, Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert did confirm the impending medical. The deal must be completed today in order for Bent to be eligible to play in Fulham’s match on Saturday at Sunderland.