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Sunday, 23 January 2011

The most ridiculous question in football - Is Bent worth £24million?

Of course not - he's a footballer!!! I personally don't think a footballer is worth £1million.  Maybe a scientist with the cure for cancer, or a special politician with a soultion to this economic 'crisis' - hard to believe when £24million is spent on one player.

Ok, that's enough of the real world, back to football.  It's pretty hard to define what a player's 'value' is.  There's no such thing as 'market value' since the market is just too varied.  Would Chelsea or either Manchester club pay £24million for Bent - probably not.  In fact there probaly isn't a club in the world that would.  But if Villa had bid less (say £15million) would Sunderland have sold? Blackpool have rejected bids ranging from £2.5million to about £5million for Charlie Adam - Holloway wants £10million on top of that, but with his contract running out in the Summer surely they will accept less.  Added to the fact that Blackpool paid £500,000, what is he worth?

If Villa are prepared to pay £24million, surely that's what he is worth.  The question that needs to be asked is have Villa put all their eggs in one basket and is that basket going to be enough?

Of course by 'basket' I mean Darren Bent.  So will Bent help Villa move back up the table towards the 6th place they occupied at the end of last season, or will Villa prove that no squad is 'too good to go down'?

With his goal yesterday, Bent is now level with Rooney and Drogba on 82 Premier League goals in the last 3 seasons.  What Villa have lacked more than anything over the last 3 seasons is an out-and-out goalscorer.  Good match then?  His goal against Man City is exactly what Villa have bought Bent for - right place at the right time = goal.  More often than not, Bent will be in the right place at the right time and Villa might have just bought their first 20-goal a season striker for a long time (none of Angel, Yorke or Saunders scored 20 league goals in one season).  Will he get the chances?  With the likes of Young, Downing and Alrighton as suppliers, Bent should get opportunities, although there is still a lack of creativity in the heart of midfield (possibly why 3 bids have been made for Charlie Adam).  There is also some concern with the full-back areas - with Warnock not performing and Luke Young not naturally left-sided, young centre-back Ciaran Clark is filling in admirably.  Whilst Houllier has addressed the right back position with loan signing Kyle Walker, he does need to strengthen on the opposite flank.  So that's already 2 positions that need reinforcements and with Brad Friedel getting on, albeit still playing very well, a new goalkeeper will be needed in the Summer as well as some sort of replacement for those squad players touted to leave (Sidwell, Reo-coker, Carew, Davies, Beye).

So with £24million spent, what else can GH do?  Well he's got an excellent set of youth players coming through - already the likes of Delfouneso, Albrighton, Bannan, Clark, Hogg and Lichaj have made league appearances and there are still players like Delph, Gardner, Baker and Weimann who are highly rated.  But you don't win things with kids...so what else?  Well, despite appearing to be cautious with the transfers of Martin O'Neill (£90million spent in 3-4 seasons!?!), Randy Lerner has also sanctioned the purchase of Jean Makoun for £5-6million and bids for Charlie Adam.  Rumours are that more signings might happen before next weekend (Crouch for £10million the latest), demonstrating that money is not much of an issue.  Indeed, knowledge of the European market is surely one of the main reasons for hiring Gerrard Houllier in the first place.  It's exciting times at Villa, if not a little nervy!

I don't really want to talk about the politics of transfers, with both Steve Bruce and Ian Holloway deciding to vent their frustrations through the media.  I guess it is a symptom of the transfer window, but it wearing thin for me.  Houllier will do well to continue to avoid responding.

Only time will tell if Bent is a success at Villa, or Makoun for that matter, but already there seems to be a higher calibre of player being linked (and signed) by Villa than for a few seasons - long may it continue!

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