Sunderland striker Darren Bent has handed in a transfer request amid reports Aston Villa have made an £18m bid for him.
The 26-year-old has netted 36 goals in 63 appearances for the Black Cats since making a £10m move from Tottenham 18 months ago, and has continued to be a regular figure in the starting XI this season despite the summer arrival of Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck.
But Sunderland has announced on their official website that Bent wishes to leave, with a brief statement reading: “The club can confirm that it received a written transfer request from Darren Bent following yesterday's Wear-Tyne derby match.”
The Black Cats did not, however, confirm the reports that Bent had been the subject of a bid from Villa, whose boss Gerard Houllier is eager to add some much-needed firepower to his squad.
Struggling Villa, who moved out of the relegation zone following a draw at Birmingham City on Sunday, have managed just 24 goals in their 22 Premier League games so far this season.
While winger Stewart Downing tops the club’s scoring charts with five goals, Emile Heskey is Villa’s leading scorer among strikers with just three, while fellow forwards Gabriel Agbonlahor and John Carew are yet to get off the mark.