Villa hit out at Black Cats
ASTON VILLA officials have reacted angrily to Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn's suggestion that they were setting up Darren Bent for two or three weeks before they signed him. In an interview with an Irish television station, Quinn appeared to claim that Bent's head was elsewhere when he saw the striker at Sunderland's Academy of Light training complex more than a fortnight ago, and accused the striker of taking Villa's bait when he submitted a formal transfer request on Sunday evening. However, Villa issued a strongly-worded statement last night in which they insisted Bent had not been aware of their interest until they had agreed the substance of a deal with Sunderland. I had an inkling (of what was going to happen), said Quinn. Darren is a terrific guy and he has been great for us. He's done loads of work with us for the club over and beyond just playing football. He's bubbly and he's always on great form. Two or three weeks ago maybe, I went into the training ground and there was something up with him. I looked at his demeanour and I thought, It's not right'. Having been in the game, you kind of know when someone's got something going on in their heads. It transpired that's what had happened. They were setting him up to try and come, and he took the bait. However, Villa have challenged Quinn's version of events, and claimed they made no contact with Bent prior to Sunday's 1-1 draw with Newcastle, which turned out to be his final game as a Sunderland player. A club statement said: We understand Sunderland Football Club's need to explain to their naturally-disappointed supporters why Darren Bent has been allowed to leave their club. It is disappointing, however, that Sunderland should try to besmirch the reputation of the player and Aston Villa Football Club in the process. We wish to make clear that at no time did Aston Villa make an inappropriate approach to the player or unfairly compromise the business of Sunderland Football Club. Darren only became aware of his possible transfer AFTER Sunderland's game against Newcastle on Sunday and AFTER we had agreed with Sunderland the essence of the deal, which led quickly to Darren's arrival at Villa Park on Tuesday.
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