Bent asks to quit Black Cats
Villa make £18million bid for England striker
Last Updated: 17/01/11 11:03pm
Bent: Wants to leave after Villa bid
Sunderland striker Darren Bent has handed in a transfer request after Aston Villa made an £18million move for the England international.
Bent has been a regular scorer for the Black Cats since joining from Tottenham 18 months ago, but he has now asked to quit the North East.
He has scored 36 goals in 63 appearances during his time on Wearside following his £10million switch from Tottenham.
The 26-year-old has flourished under Steve Bruce's management at the Stadium of Light, but now appears to be bringing the curtain down on his time with Sunderland.
Sunderland have confirmed Bent's request to leave and have a big decision to make over whether to accept Villa's huge offer.
A club statement read: "The club can confirm that it received a written transfer request from Darren Bent following yesterday's Wear-Tyne derby match."
Villa boss Gerard Houllier is trying to assemble a squad capable of staying in the Premier League and goals have been in short supply this season.
The team have scored just 24 goals in 22 Premier League games this term and Stewart Downing is the top scorer with five, followed by fellow winger Marc Albrighton with four goals.
The current strikers at Houllier's disposal have failed to fire, with Emile Heskey scoring three times, while John Carew and Gabriel Agbonlahor have yet to get off the mark in the Premier League.
A deal for Bent would provide Houllier's squad with a major injection of goals and lift a Villa team that are currently short on confidence.
The offer for the former Charlton Athletic hit-man also represents a major show of support in Houllier from Villa owner Randy Lerner following a difficult start to the Frenchman's tenure at Villa Park.
Houllier has already splashed out £6million to sign Jean II Makoun in January, in addition to bringing in Kyle Walker on loan, and a swoop for Bent would be a coup for Villa at this stage of the season.