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Transfer window swings open at last with stunning Bent move to Villa

Steve Bruce is not a happy man tonight despite the big cheque that’s in the post from Randy Lerner.

Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

ARE YOU WATCHING  Martin O’Neill?

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has loosened the purse-strings and sanctioned a shock swoop for Sunderland striker Darren Bent this evening.

The midlands club have smashed their transfer record in a deal which could eventually be worth £24million, according to PA.

Villa are splashing out an initial £18million for Bent but additional add-ons mean the final figure could rise by another £6m more. The England player is in line to make his debut in Saturday evening’s home Premier League clash with Manchester City.

Bent said: “Aston Villa is a massive football club and as soon as I knew they were interested in signing me I wanted to join. The size of the football club and the history of the club are major reasons for me coming here.” He added:

There are some top, top players here too, real quality, and I’ve been able to speak to the manager and the owner about their ambitions for the club.

I’m very excited about being a part of what we hope to achieve.”

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is not happy to be losing the England striker, however, despite the healthy price tag.

He said: “It’s hugely disappointing that Darren has decided that his future lies away from Sunderland and the players, our supporters and the club as a whole have every right to feel massively let down.

The timing is especially hard to take, given that we are progressing positively and are in a great position to push on.

Everyone has been nothing but supportive of Darren in his time at Sunderland but it’s obvious he’s not been himself in training and we’ve certainly not seen the best of him in games in recent weeks – and we now understand why.

But the Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn insisted Sunderland must put the episode behind them quickly: “Darren has now left the club and it’s important we move on quickly,” he said.

We’ve worked hard in the last 36 hours to get what we feel is a fair price for him.

“Of course it presents us with significant challenges from a football perspective which we didn’t envisage, but we’ll deal with it and are working hard to find a solution both in the short-term and more importantly the longer term.”

The former Ipswich, Charlton and Tottenham player joined the Black Cats in the summer of 2009 and has been a prolific scorer in the top-flight in recent years.

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