BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: The disembodied head of Darren Bent laments his missing body in the dark.
Check out the title of this article you're about to read. Do you see what it says? It says exactly what is happening. There are rumours, started by fans of Aston Villa and fans of Liverpool, that Darren Bent signing with the Merseysiders is imminent and there's nothing you can do to stop it. I have seen a few stories written today with much more facetious lead ins. This one in particular, showed up in my Twitter feed as "Bent On His Way to Liverpool" and then instantly says that Liverpool MAY BE READY to bid on the perfectly gruntled striker. In the meantime, the only true things that we know are that Aston Villa and Alex McLeish have stated ad nauseum that Bent is not for sale at any price. Apparently, that phrase has gained the same meaning as the dreaded vote of confidence because no one on either side seems to believe it.
Naturally, when a person opens up their Twitter feed or their Facebook or their email and sees "Bent to Liverpool" there's a chemical reaction in their brain that says done deal. Why? Well there are a few reasons:
- Villa (like it or not) has gained a reputation over the past year or so as a bit of a feeder club to the big boys. Ashley to Manchester United. Downing to Liverpool. Gareth Barry and James Milner to Manchester City. Our best players have all been sold off to better clubs, There's a pattern here and so it's easy to assume that it's going to happen again.
- Darren Bent might be unhappy. We have no real evidence of this. Yes, he went shopping during the the match against Liverpool but admitted that was a bad idea and didn't mean to cause a stir by it. There were rumours of a bust-up between him and Alex McLeish. Those have been shot down by both player and manager.
- He's not scoring nearly as much as he'd like to and his service has suffered this year with the loss of Young and Downing. A poacher's gotta poach, right?
- We don't know Darren Bent's true motives but whether he likes it or not he's got a bit of a reputation as a mercenary. Despite a tremendous goal scoring record in England he's played for a handful of clubs already. He came to Villa out of sheer desperation last season for a hefty sum and was instrumental in keeping the club from sinking into relegation.
- Liverpool is clinging to European qualification hopes and has been unable to muster any kind of sustained success in their goal scoring. With Luis Suarez set to miss at least seven more matches and Andy Carroll continuing to be a very expensive statue, wouldn't it make sense for them to find a guy just like Darren Bent? Of course it would. And so in our minds it's as good as done.
Look., Darren Bent was an expensive, reactionary purchase for Aston Villa last season. Frankly clubs that look to sustain on-pitch success through the development of young players from an academy while bringing in well-scouted, low-risk/high-reward purchases from places that sometimes might not be the UK don't make that kind of a purchase. It's easy to say that but everyone had that very real fear that Aston Villa might get relegated last year. The threat of relegation would have hit the club's already depleted coffers quite a bit harder than the cost of overpaying to bring in a striker like Darren Bent.
If you read the reactions of Liverpool fans to this rumour you'll see a common theme: they don't want Bent. Even though he's got the talent to do what Andy Carroll clearly cannot, they don't want him. It reeks of desperation and while it may help Liverpool get to Europe it does nothing for their future but fill up their bench with expensive failures. Eventually these failures will weigh down a club and then they may end up where Villa is now: trying to shed wages while staying competitive enough to placate a weary fan base. Except, it's Liverpool so multiply that fan base by about a billion.
Darren Bent being linked with Liverpool makes all kinds of sense except that neither club has done anything to confirm said interest. There haven't been any offers and Aston Villa has said they aren't accepting bids. So please stop with the woe-is-you posts about how Bent is off to Liverpool and Villa are yet again a selling club. The fact that Villa is adamantly denying his availability means that Liverpool would have to grossly overpay to even consider acquiring his services.
Everyone step back from the ledge and take a breath. For now, Darren Bent isn't going anywhere.