Friday media watch [02.08.13 PM]: Walsall impressed with Villa
Walsall Advertiser: Saddlers stars Andy Butler and James Baxendale admitted they were hugely impressed with Aston Villa in Walsall's 125th anniversary friendly against the Premier League aces. Villa struggled in the top flight under Paul Lambert last season, only narrowly avoiding relegation. But Butler, having witnessed their quality at close quarters during Wednesday's 5-0 defeat, believes they are in for a far better campaign this time around. Butler said: "It was tough, Villa moved the ball really well and given that they struggled last year, I thought they were bang on it from the kick-off. "It shows what you've got to be to become a Premier League player - they're all so strong and fast. The way they move the ball and the tempo was impressive."
Teamtalk: Fulham are understood to have made an improved offer for Aston Villa striker Darren Bent. Cottagers boss Martin Jol is desperate to land a striker who will take some of the pressure off last season's leading scorer Dimitar Berbatov. Bent was reportedly the subject of a £4m bid from Fulham last month, which was rejected by Villa, but Sky sources understand they have made an improved offer of around £5m. Newcastle were also linked with the 29-year-old but their interested has cooled, with Alan Pardew linked with a move for QPR's Loic Remy.
Sky Sports: Sky sources understand that Fulham have made an improved offer for Aston Villa striker Darren Bent. Cottagers boss Martin Jol is desperate to land a striker who will take some of the pressure off last season's leading scorer Dimitar Berbatov. Bent was reportedly the subject of a £4m bid from Fulham last month, which was rejected by Villa, but they are believed to have made an improved offer of around £5m. Newcastle were also linked with the 29-year-old but their interested has cooled, with Alan Pardew linked with a move for QPR's Loic Remy.
RTE: Fulham have lodged a second bid for Aston Villa forward Darren Bent, according to reports. According to several national newspapers, the Cottagers are said to have made a £5m offer for the former England striker, who has fallen out of favour at Villa Park following the emergence of Christian Benteke. Bent has two years remaining on his contract and Fulham would look to play him alongside Dimitar Berbatov.
BBC Sport: Bristol City have completed the signings of midfielder Marlon Pack and veteran striker Marlon Harewood. Both players have recently been on trial at Ashton Gate. Free agent Harewood, 33, was released by Barnsley in the summer and has signed a one-year deal with City.
Express & Star: Fabian Delph today insisted he will lead from the front this season and admitted he feels the pressure to take control at Villa. The 23-year-old is the fourth-longest serving Villa player, behind Gabby Agbonlahor, Marc Albrighton and Brad Guzan, after signing from Leeds for £6m in 2009. He has been handed the captaincy in pre-season this summer and the midfielder admitted he must shoulder the responsibility in a young side.
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Sky Sports: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says talks with Tottenham over a move for Gareth Bale are ongoing. Ancelotti confirmed on Thursday that they had begun transfer discussions with Spurs for the Welsh star, who has reportedly told manager Andre Villas-Boas he wants to leave the club.
BBC Sport: Charles Green, who stood down as chief executive in April amid controversy, has returned to Rangers - as a consultant - the club has announced. He stood down amid a probe into his links with former owner Craig Whyte in the lead-up to the Green-led takeover.
Sky Sports: Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal still want to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool. Wenger refused, however, to be drawn on the details of Arsenal's bid, insisting he wants to keep negotiations with Liverpool "amicable".
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.