On just the second day of preseason training ahead of the 2013-14 campaign, Paul Lambert has made his feelings toward the striker's future at the club perfectly clear.
According to Mat Kendrick of The Birmingham Mail, the former Sunderland star has been sent to train with fellow unwanted personnel Alan Hutton and Stephen Ireland, remains unlikely to participate in any friendlies and probably won't travel with the squad to Germany on tour.
If there were any lingering hopes of Bent reviving his career in claret and blue, this represents the hammer blow.
The 29-year-old is firmly on the market as Villa look to rid themselves of his circa £70,000-per-week pay packet, creating room for further signings to bolster the squad and improve the atmosphere in the team.
Joe Kinnear looks Villa's best bet for a rescue mission, with David Anderson from The Mirror suggesting Bent is a player both he and Alan Pardew wish to snap up.
His omission from the starting XI was a consistent bone of contention across many national media outlets, consistently questioning Paul Lambert as to his reasoning for starting an untried, unproven Christian Benteke.
Tactically speaking, Lambert was spot on: Bent's inability to join in with the side's buildup play meant Villa struggled to create and score. Benteke, a monstrous man, is fantastic at linking play.
Bent arrived at Villa during the Ashley Young and Stewart Downing era, then proceeded to save the club from relegation by firing in nine goals from 16 appearances. However, removing the creativity around him and failing to reinvest essentially brought an end to his effectiveness.
His one-dimensional nature has meant Lambert has never favoured him, and it was made pretty clear early on in the 2012-13 season that Bent was not a man he wanted around.
Newcastle's baulking at the price and Bent's unwillingness to take a pay-cut will hold this potential deal up, but Villa won't want it haunting their summer.
Bent's motives and aspirations should also be called into question, and rather than letting the clubs hit brick walls while standing idly by, he should be proactive in forcing his own escape.
Fernandinho was so keen to join Manchester City that he paid £4 million of his own transfer fee to force the move, report The Manchester Evening News. That's hardly a precedent that's likely to catch fire in the footballing world, but if Bent wants a shot at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he has to leave.
Historically, Villa have been excellent at extracting the price they want for their players. Gareth Barry's move to Liverpool was blocked, Stewart Downing left for an incredible £20 million and Ashley Young was overpriced at £16 million.
It's getting messy between Bent and Villa, but this will come to an end this summer and Villa will get the price they want from him—even if they do end up subsidising some of his wages on the other side.
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