Villa will take hit in selling £24m flop Bent as Lambert begins clear-out
Darren Bent has been told he can leave Aston Villa this summer as the club prepares to take a huge hit on their investment in the England international.
The striker, 29, still has two years remaining on the contract he agreed during Gerard Houllier’s spell in charge following his club record-breaking move from Sunderland.
Bent was signed for an initial £18m, rising to £24m on appearances and other bonuses, but Villa will be lucky to recoup half that figure.
The forward’s fall from grace has been spectacular and it speaks volumes that Lambert is willing to let Bent leave with questions remaining over whether Christian Benteke will remain with the club following his stellar first season.
The Scot could be left in a situation where he is without Benteke, should he be pursued by a club that has qualified for the Champions League.
And the fact that Lambert clearly wants Bent out should help any potential purchaser lever the player away from Villa Park.
Villa are understood to have handed over over £21m of the initial fee and would want a sizeable chunk of that in return, despite the striker’s lack of action this season.
Bent was initially installed as club captain by Lambert but that relationship soured and he scored just three goals in the Premier League as his position was usurped by Benteke.
The big Belgium international found the net 19 times and it appears that he will resume talks over his own future upon his return from America with his national team.
Bent will be allowed to leave Villa if the price is right and the club has also failed to offer new terms to defender Eric Lichaj and keeper Andy Marshall.
However, it has made an important signing after Stiliyan Petrov accepted a coaching role with the club.
Petrov, 33, will join Villa’s academy staff as an assistant to Gordon Cowans following his retirement from the game after his battle with acute leukaemia.
Petrov’s official title will be ‘assistant development coach’ and he said: “I’m very excited by this new challenge.
‘I wish to thank the club and manager, Paul Lambert, for giving me this opportunity.
‘I’ll study for my coaching badges over the coming months and my hope is that I can assist Gordon through my own experience in the game and that I can help the young lads to progress.
‘The club have been amazing with me.
‘But the main thing for me is that it is not done for sentimental reasons that I’ll be taking up this role but because I have something to contribute and I really want to do this.’