Aston Villa‘s transfer business has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years but the club were even pulling off disastrous deals going back as far as 2011.
The decision to pay a then club-record £24m to sign Darren Bent from Sunderland looked to be justified after the former England international had hit 36 goals in just 64 appearances for the Black Cats.
However, he was never able to replicate that form at Villa Park, enduring a torrid time in the Midlands until he was eventually released four years later, joining Derby County on a free transfer.
In 72 appearances for the Villans, Bent would manage just 25 goals, which was a poor return considering his hefty transfer fee and the expectations that came with it. Indeed, when taking into account how much they paid, he remarkably cost the club just shy of £1m-per-goal (£960,000).
After leaving the club he was lamented by former boss Paul Clement, who dubbed the striker “overweight and lazy” after he had been sacked at the club.
Bent would hit 28 goals for the Rams before one final season with Burton Albion, where he managed just two goals in 15 appearances before retiring at the age of 35 in the summer of 2019.
Unfortunately for Villa fans, Bent’s move to the Midlands signified the beginning of the end for Bent, as he failed to hit double digits in any of his three seasons at the club.
He also endured difficult loan spells with Fulham and Brighton, scoring a combined eight goals in 35 appearances away from his parent side.
Bent’s final campaign before his exit saw him fail to find the back of the net in nine appearances for Villa, although seven of those appearances came from the bench in the Premier League, as he was afforded just 76 minutes of action.
To sign a player for £24m and lose him for nothing emphasises just how poor a decision it was from Villa to sign Bent. Indeed, that sum of money would be worth a rather remarkable £36m nowadays when taking into account inflation over the last 11 years.