Friday media watch [16.08.13 AM]: Bent future in focus
Birmingham Mail: Darren Bent is set to join Fulham on a season-long loan - with Paul Lambert putting the record signing's fall from grace at Villa purely down to the Christian Benteke factor. Villa have agreed a loan fee, believed to be £2m, with the Cottagers, who will also pay all of the striker's reported £75,000-per-week wages during the forthcoming campaign. The formalities of the switch should be finalised before today's noon deadline to enable Bent to make his debut against former club Sunderland tomorrow. There is no option to buy included in the deal, although the claret and blues will look to move him on permanently next summer after failing to do so in the current close season.
Guardian: Darren Bent looked set to join Fulham on loan from Aston Villa after passing a medical. The news came as a bitter disappointment to Crystal Palace, who had expected the striker to report for a medical with them. Bent had a late change of heart when it became clear that Fulham were able to put together a season-long loan deal along the lines that Palace had proposed. The 29-year-old striker briefly worked with Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, during their time together at Tottenham, where he also played alongside Dimitar Berbatov.
Daily Mirror: Darren Bent is set to join Fulham on a season-long loan after being frozen out of Aston Villa. Bent was in London for a medical yesterday, with the Cottagers agreeing to pay the England striker's £65,000-a-week salary. The £24m signing from Sunderland found himself in Christian Benteke's shadow at Villa.
The Sun: Fulham have hijacked Crystal Palace's bid to sign Darren Bent on loan. Eagles manager Ian Holloway wanted the Aston Villa hitman but admitted he had lost out to Martin Jol's last-gasp swoop. Villa wanted £6m for Bent, 29, but agreed to let him leave on loan when there were no takers for a permanent deal. Holloway said: "Fulham took our deal. I was told he was coming to us. It's life. There are bigger sharks than us." Bent had a medical at Craven Cottage last night.
The Times: Darren Bent will sign for Fulham on loan today after he rebuffed the advances of Crystal Palace and fielded a desperate attempt by Newcastle United to revive their longstanding interest in the England forward. As late as yesterday morning, Palace believed they had secured the services of Bent, by having had two bids to buy the 29-year-old rejected by Aston Villa, Fulham agreed a £2m loan fee and agreed to pay his entire wages. Newcastle's willingness to fund a deal came too late with Bent en route to a medical in London.
Telegraph: Aston Villa striker Darren Bent is ready to complete a loan move to Fulham, with Martin Jol agreeing to pay a substantial loan fee and all of the England international's £65,000-a-week wages. Bent has spent the majority of the season on the sidelines, largely due to the emergence of Christian Benteke.
Daily Express: Fulham are closing in on Aston Villa striker Darren Bent after Crystal Palace pulled out of negotiations for him yesterday. Bent, who has had a medical at Craven Cottage, was manager Martin Jol's first signing when he was in charge of Tottenham and could be signed on a one-year loan deal. Villa manager Paul Lambert defended his treatment of Bent, whom he left out of the squad numerous times last season, by saying: "There has been not one cross word between us. I don't know where people have got that from. I brought in Christian Benteke."
BBC Sport: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has confirmed that striker Darren Bent is set to join Fulham on a season's loan. "I think it's well-documented now that he's down there having a medical and that is the last I've heard," he said. Fulham boss Martin Jol had played down claims by Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway that Bent, 29, was on his way to Craven Cottage. "I'm not sure other managers should say that because we're not 100% sure about any player." said Jol. Holloway had told BBC London 94.9 that his proposed move for the Aston Villa striker had been scuppered by Fulham's approach.
Daily Mail: Martin Jol has told Ian Holloway to keep his mouth shut after the Crystal Palace boss revealed Darren Bent has agreed terms at Fulham. The West London club are expected to sign Bent on a season-long loan today, beating Palace and Newcastle to his signature. But Fulham boss Jol is annoyed by how Holloway conducted himself. Holloway thought he had agreed a deal for Villa's club record £24m signing only to find that Bent had plumped for a move to the Cottagers instead.
Daily Star: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says he's baffled why his side have been handed the start from hell. Lambert is far from happy that the Premier League appeared to bow down to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho over a fixture switch. Villa's game at Stamford Bridge was brought forward 10 days because of the Londoners' involvement in the Super Cup. That hands Chelsea the possibility of striking a massive psychological blow in the title race. But Villa now have the daunting task of playing Arsenal at The Emirates on the opening day and then Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in midweek followed by Liverpool at home all in the space of a week. The Villa boss is far from happy and reckons 'big club syndrome' might have come into play.
Daily Express: Paul Lambert has hit out at the decision which has left Aston Villa facing a difficult opening week. Villa begin their campaign at Arsenal tomorrow and host Liverpool the following weekend, however they now also have a trip to Chelsea sandwiched in between. The Premier League have agreed to Chelsea's wish to move the game to Wednesday of next week to accommodate their UEFA Super Cup game against Bayern Munich on August 30. "There was no compromise whatsoever," said Lambert.
Birmingham Mail: Christian Benteke reckons Villa's Goal-y-Trinity are ready to take the Premier League by storm again this campaign. Between them, Benteke, Andi Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor scored 35 top-flight goals last season after combining power, persistence and pace. Benteke rattled in 19, while Agbonlahor notched nine and Weimann hit seven as part of the claret and blues prolific three-pronged attack.
Birmingham Mail: Yacouba Sylla will miss the season opener at Arsenal after twisting his ankle. Sylla sustained the injury after being given a run-out in Monday's U21s defeat at West Ham with the intention of boosting his match fitness. He came off midway through the first half. The problem is slightly more serious than first feared, although the midfielder could resume training next week. Charles N'Zogbia [achilles] and Chris Herd [calf] are the only other known casualties ahead of tomorrow's trip to the Emirates Stadium.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce believes strikers Andy Carroll and Rickie Lambert are competing this season for one England World Cup place. Southampton's Lambert, 31, scored the winner on his debut against Scotland on Wednesday, with the Hammers' Carroll missing out with a heel injury.
Sky Sports: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists it is time to concentrate on his other players and not Luis Suarez. This summer has been dominated by speculation about the Uruguay international's future, with Arsenal having two bids rejected and the player revealing his desire to leave.
BBC Sport: A return match between England and Scotland at Hampden Park could be dependent on the draw for the 2016 European Championship in February. The Scottish FA is keen on hosting the fixture and believes its English counterpart is similarly enthusiastic about finding a suitable date.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.