Reports of possible Newcastle interest in Aston Villa striker Darren Bent have surfaced over the last couple of days, and Mark Douglas of The Journal has apparently reached out to Bent to see what he feels about a possible move back to the North East. The article doesn't feature any direct quotes from Bent, with the possible exception of the word "keen," but the takeaway is that he is reportedly amenable to the idea.
Douglas also uses the k-word to describe Villa manager Paul Lambert's desire to offload Bent, as well as Alan Pardew's hopes to buy experienced, English players, a refrain that is apparently not going away any time soon. Douglas acknowledges that Bent's age (29) and wage (currently £80,000 per week) would seem to rule out a possible move, admissions that lead me to believe that there may actually be something to this rumor (Why connect dots that don't make any sense unless something's actually been said?). The rumored sale price of £6 million may be a hindrance as well. While Newcastle have been connected to players said to have 8-digit price tags, in reality they have been reluctant to spend more than £5 million on any single player, with exceptions being made for young (Vurnon Anita, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa) or in-demand (Papiss Cisse, Yanga-Mbiwa again) players.
So we've conceded that Bent appears to be a player atypical of the sort NUFC tend to pursue, while also paying mind to the adage that where there is smoke, there is likely fire, and we have at least a bit of a reason to believe this rumor has more teeth to it than certain others. Would Bent be a fit at Newcastle?
As it happens, the reasons we've listed that make Bent an unlikely target would also make him an ill-advised signing. It would be easier to stomach if they could pry him away from Villa for a cheaper fee and if Bent reduces his wage demands, but he'll still be a 29 year-old with an injury history and a declining skill set. If not for Andy Carroll, the £24 million fee Aston Villa paid for Bent in that same window might be regarded as the cautionary tale about overpaying for English pedigree. He's played a season's worth of matches over the last two years and has been largely ineffective. Where once opponents may have crafted their defensive game plan around his presence on the pitch, he's now an anonymous face who once showed promise.
That doesn't mean Darren Bent can't rekindle the old magic; given the right set of circumstances, I believe he could flourish. Those are the types of gambles taken by clubs that possess deeper pools of resources than Newcastle have, however. Somebody inside of the organization has apparently told members of the press that they are only looking to add two players this summer. If that's the case, one would hope those two would be impact players. At this stage in his career, Bent appears to be more of a role player with an outside chance of having a significant impact.