A Symbol of Intent
The signing of Darren Bent under Gerard Houllier had Villa supporters believing that Randy Lerner wasn’t messing around. Even after spending good money after bad funding Martin O’Neill’s attempts on Champions League qualification, after O’Neill hit his glass ceiling and walked out of the club, to spend in the region of £20 million on Bent suggested Villa still had ambition as they finally snagged a 20-goal a season man.
While the transfer fee and £65,000-a-week wages were both above his market value, at the time at least, the aggressive move to rip him from the clutches of Sunderland suggested that Lerner’s ambition for the club still burnt brightly.
With his goal-scoring record, Bent was the kind of player on paper at least that may have completed O’Neill’s team, although at the time Bent signed for Houllier, that team was starting to fragment with Gareth Barry and James Milner already gone.
In hindsight, some Villa fans talk about Bent’s goals saving Villa from the drop in one season at least, but if you strengthened a team by distributing that £20 million investment over two or three decent players, you probably wouldn’t be in a relegation battle in the first place.
You could also perhaps write a thesis on the Paul Lambert’s seemingly bizarre treatment of Bent from electing him captain to demoting him to the ‘Bomb Squad’ within a season.
Since Lerner has exercised his long winter of austerity at the club over the past four seasons, the Villa board have been long looking forward to the day that Bent’s £65,000-a-week wage came off the books. Only Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia’s wages now remain as the real stains on the accounts.
When you look back and do the maths on Darren Bent like the Daily Telegraph did (from which the below stats are taken from), it makes for nightmarish reading for the Villa board. Even when you factor in the wages saved from the ex-England international’s loan spells at Fulham, Brighton and Derby, it is estimated that Bent cost the club £35.8m in total over the course of the four-and-a-half years he was at Villa Park.
The Brutal Cost of Darren Bent Aston Villa Stats
Darren Bent made 61 Premier League appearances – starting just 45 times – and based on Opta stats, here’s the amazing price Villa paid for his stats…
Cost of an appearance
Each appearance has cost the club over £586,000,
Cost of a start
£796,000 per start. Ouch!
Cost of a Goal
Bent scored 21 league goals. The cost per goal? £1.7million per goal
Cost of a Touch
Averaged 21.5 touches per game – each touch cost Villa £27,000
Cost of a Pass
He completed 632 passes. The cost per Bent pass is £57,000
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