Paul Lambert is ready to sell Darren Bent in the January transfer window - but Aston Villa will demand £18 million in a bid to recover most of the money they paid Sunderland for the England striker.
Bent has been out of Lambert’s plans for most of the season and owner Randy Lerner appears ready to sanction the sale of the 29-year-old next month in a bid to bring a conclusion to the stand-off between the pair.
Villa made Sunderland an initial £18 million down payment on the striker in January 2011 and are understood to have paid a further £3 million in add-ons, with another £3 million payment still outstanding on the deal.
It was initially thought Villa would be prepared to listen to offers of around £10 million for Bent, but ESPN sources have confirmed the club are determined to recoup most of the original £18 million fee, which could leave Bent in limbo at Villa Park.
“Villa would be willing to sell, but they are not prepared to do any kind of cheap deal,” the source said. “The figure they have in mind is the £18 million they paid for the player.”
Villa received a number of tentative enquiries for Bent in the summer, believed to be from Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers, but there were no formal offers.
New QPR manager Harry Redknapp has made no secret of his admiration for the player, who has a scoring record of a goal almost every two games in the Premier League, but the Hoops are unlikely to be able to meet Villa’s valuation.
Bent remains out of favour under Lambert, with the Scot preferring to operate with £7 million summer signing Christian Benteke. Bent was left out of Villa’s four previous squads before returning to the bench for last weekend’s draw with QPR at Loftus Road.