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An exciting statement of intent; COMMENT.

"DARREN Bent: Club statement." proclaimed the headline.

For Sunderland it was a piddly 20-word statement on their website confirming the bombshell no Mackem wanted to hear, that Bent had handed in a transfer request.

But for Aston Villa it was the most astounding, dramatic, exciting statement of intent from the club in living memory... I certainly can't recall a buzz of anticipation to rival it.

Lingering doubts about Randy Lerner's commitment to the claret and blue cause have been kicked away like a deadly swing of Bent's boot.

When Darren powerfully heads in his first measured Marc Albrighton cross it's doubtful he'll produce a more emphatic nod than the one of approval the board have given Gerard Houllier by sanctioning this signing.

This is not a Gazza or Juninho publicity stunt of the past to give the Villa faithful a quick thrill before a Savo, Bosko or any other Oh-no is ushered through the door. This is an established, tried and tested, knows where the net is, prolific centre forward who has got goals for every club he has represented, with a near as damn it one in two ratio... signing for Aston Villa... in his prime.

Far from being a panic buy prompted by their perilous position in the Premier League, Villa insist the marquee deal was something Bent knows all about - a chance too good to miss.

Cynics might argue that at pounds 18 million-plus Villa have paid over the odds, but I disagree. With that exact sum burning a hole in their pockets from James Milner's move to Manchester City last summer, where better could Villa have spent it? Besides, this is not about Lerner's bank statement, this is a statement of intent, a statement that Aston Villa Football Club mean business and are hell-bent on success.

MAT KENDRICK
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 18, 2011
Words:302
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