Wednesday media watch [24.07.13 AM]: Bent in the news
The Sun: Newcastle are in the clear to sign Darren Bent after Fulham withdrew from the race over his wages. The Aston Villa striker is on a whopping £80,000 a week. And that was enough to put off Fulham's Martin Jol, leaving Toon boss Alan Pardew as the runaway favourite to land the ex-England star for £5m. Bent, 29, has already dropped hints he will end his spell at Villa Park "very soon." Jol has been a long-term admirer of Bent but a move for him has now been classified as "too costly" even under the new ownership of car-parts tycoon Shahid Khan.
Daily Express: Fulham have pulled out of a £5m move for Aston Villa striker Darren Bent, leaving the way clear for Newcastle to make a bid. The Cottagers were favourites to capture the England striker but Bent's £80,000-a-week wage demands have proved too high. Newcastle's new director of football Joe Kinnear has made Bent his No.1 target after the striker was made available by Villa, who have signed Christian Benteke to a new contract. Kinnear is in talks with Bent, who still has a property in the North-East after his spell at Sunderland and is keen on a move back to the area.
ESPN: Newcastle United have emerged as the favourites to sign out-of-favour striker Darren Bent from Aston Villa after Fulham cooled interest because of the player's wage demands. Bent, who is believed to be earning around £80,000-a-week at Villa, has dropped hints that he will be leaving the club in the next few weeks. He was a peripheral figure last season, playing 23 games and at times was not even able to get on the bench. He had been linked with Fulham but the club has decided they were not willing to meet his wage demands, leaving Newcastle the main suitors. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew worked well with Bent when the pair were at Charlton and it is expected a formal approach will be made in the coming days.
Clubcall: Newcastle are in pole position to sign Darren Bent from Aston Villa after Fulham pulled out of the race for his signature. The 29-year-old is heading for the exit door at Villa Park and it looked as though it would be a straight scrap between Newcastle and Fulham for his signature. However, reports claim that Fulham boss Martin Jol has baulked at the player's wage demands meaning Newcastle have been given a free run to complete a deal.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert welcomed Christian Benteke back to first-team action - and predicted most of Villa's injured players will be fit within the next fortnight. Lambert felt Benteke showed some "brilliant touches" during his 45 minute run-out in last night's 2-0 defeat to Blue Square Premier League side Luton. It was the Belgian international striker's first action since withdrawing his transfer request and signing a new four-year contract last week. Daily Star: Paul Lambert hopes he will have every top club in the world banging down his door for Christian Benteke next summer. The Aston Villa boss has won his first fight to keep the £25m-rated star out of the clutches of the big boys. And if the striker, who was snapped up for £7m from Genk, can repeat his goal exploits of last season and explode on to the global stage in the World Cup with Belgium, Lambert knows he may be priceless in 12 months.
Daily Mirror: Christian Benteke has been challenged by Paul Lambert to repeat his stunning form at Aston Villa after penning a new contract. Belgium international striker Benteke, 22, did a U-turn last week to sign a new four-year deal at Premier League Villa. He withdrew his transfer request and committed himself to the Midlands club after Spurs refused to meet his £25m price tag. Now Benteke is back in pre-season training with Villa after missing their pre-season tour. And Villa boss Lambert hopes Benteke can repeat his 23-goal haul from last term after joining from Genk in August.
Sky Sports: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has challenged Christian Benteke to repeat last season's goalscoring heroics. Benteke scored 19 Premier League goals for Villa last season and has now agreed a new deal with the West Midlands club after initially handing in a transfer request earlier this summer. Lambert now hopes his star asset, who had a run-out against Luton on Tuesday, can concentrate on delivering another strong performance for the club in 2013-14.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Liverpool owner John W Henry has asked what "they're smoking" at Arsenal after rejecting the Gunners' improved offer of just over £40m for Luis Suarez. The unusual bid of £40,000,001 was designed to trigger a clause in the 26-year-old Uruguay striker's contract. Under the terms of Suarez's deal, Liverpool must inform him of the bid but do not have to accept it.
Sky Sports: Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has suggested that the pressure is all on Manchester City after their summer spending spree. New City boss Manuel Pellegrini has splurged the cash on Spanish duo Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas from Sevilla as well as Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina and Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk - spending more than £80million in the process. And Mourinho believes that investment on experienced players means people should expect more from City than his young Chelsea side.
BBC Sport: Swansea City's record £12m signing Wilfried Bony has been granted a work permit, allowing him to complete his move from Vitesse Arnhem. The striker, 24, is expected to join his new team-mates for training on Thursday and could feature in Saturday's friendly at Reading.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.