BBC.CNN WORLD NEWS

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Unsettled Bent becomes target for Liverpool as Dalglish eyes more firepower

sports
Darren Bent
Liverpool are interested in a deal for Aston Villa striker Darren Bent.

The England international came off the bench to play a pivotal role in Villa’s 3-1 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday — setting up Stilian Petrov for the second goal before scoring the decisive third himself.

However, he has grown unsettled at Villa following a summer of change and a succession of niggly injuries. He expressed his frustration at the lack of service he was getting from his team-mates and incurred the wrath of fans by missing Villa’s 2-0 home defeat against Liverpool, opting to go Christmas shopping instead.

Selling Bent would be detrimental to Alex McLeish’s plans but club finances dictate that should the Villa manager want to strengthen his side then almost every player is susceptible to a bid. Villa paid £24million for Bent last January and would want more to justify the sale to fans.

That could yet work in their favour as Liverpool have made a defensive midfielder their priority for this window and know targets such as Fernando Reges from Porto or Riccardo Montolivo of Fiorentina could come at a hefty price. The Anfield club would then prefer to shelve a move for Bent until the summer.

Liverpool have also shown interest in Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha and want an extra defender.

Bent has a lot of admirers at Anfield, not least director of football Damien Comolli, who helped take him to Tottenham from Charlton for £16.5m in 2007. He also has a good relationship with ex-Villa team-mate Stewart Downing and the other members of the England contingent at Liverpool.

However, his arrival would bring Andy Carroll’s long-term future at the club under the microscope once again. Boss Kenny Dalglish has been a staunch supporter of the £35m signing from Newcastle and there were signs of a promising partnership with Steven Gerrard during Friday night’s 3-1 win over his former club. But a signing of Bent’s magnitude would put serious pressure on places up front with Luis Suarez almost an automatic pick.

FLAT TRACK BULLY OR TOP MARKSMAN?

The Aston Villa striker has scored against every current Premier League team except Swansea and QPR and stands on 97 goals from 222 games.

His goals-per-game ratio is up there with the likes of Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Robbie Fowler, too. He is ninth on 0.44.

Bent’s best season was his first at Sunderland in 2009-10 with 24 goals from 38 games, accounting for 50 per cent of their goals that season.

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