Belfast Telegraph

Darren Bent the Villan as old boss Steve Bruce lets rip

Steve Bruce last night accused Darren Bent of betraying the Sunderland fans and failing to perform in recent weeks after the player's £24m transfer to Aston Villa finally went through, hinting at the tensions that are known to have existed between the manager and his player for some time.

The announcement over Bent was delayed yesterday over talks to resolve the significant proportion of the player's transfer fee that was owed by Sunderland to Bent's former club Tottenham Hotspur as per a sell-on clause agreed by the clubs.

The player himself was in Birmingham all day but Villa officials were made to wait before they could finally release pictures of Bent in his new club shirt at 5pm.

The acrimony over the deal for Bent, who has signed a four and a half year contract worth around £80,000-a-week, was evident in Bruce's subsequent attack on him.

He left Sunderland with a stinging rebuke from his former manager who accused the player, who has scored one goal in his last eight league games, of allowing the transfer to affect his form.

Bruce said: “It's hugely disappointing that Darren has decided that his future lies away from Sunderland and the players, our supporters and the club as a whole have every right to feel massively let down.

“The timing is especially hard to take, given that we are progressing positively and are in a great position to push on.

“Everyone has been nothing but supportive of Darren in his time at Sunderland but it's obvious he's not been himself in training and we've certainly not seen the best of him in games in recent weeks — and we now understand why.

“My aim is to build a talented, young squad for the long-term to help the club achieve sustained success and I want Sunderland fans to know that our ambitions haven't changed on that front.”

It is understood that Tottenham are now due a total of around £16m from Sunderland for Bent — which includes the original fee when he left Spurs in July 2009.

The sale of Bent is January's most eye-catching deal but in another high-profile switch, Steven Pienaar completed his move to

Tottenham after signing a four-and-a-half-year contract with the London club.

The midfielder arrives from Everton for a fee of between £2.5million and £3million. Pienaar said: “To end speculation I am going to Spurs. I've had brilliant years at Everton and it will always be a special place in my heart.”

Liverpool have accepted a bid from German club Hoffenheim for Dutch forward Ryan Babel. The 24-year-old will discuss personal terms with the Bundesliga club after travelling to Germany.

Rangers ace Kenny Miller looks set for a move to Bursaspor after Birmingham confirmed he rejected a move to the midlands.

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