Aston Villa have pulled £18million out of a magic hat to put a bid in for Sunderland’s Darren Bent. He’s scored 36 goals in 63 appearances since his £10million move from Spurs but has now handed in a transfer request.

This raises several questions for football fans today. Where have Villa got this money from? Why does Bent want to leave Sunderland (6th, 4 points away from top four, with Steve Bruce as manager) for Villa (17th, only goal difference keeping them from the relegation zone, under Gerard Houllier)? And what will happen to Danny Welbeck?

1. Steve Bruce is a big fan of Welbeck
2. Sunderland will need a replacement for Bent
3. Sunderland will have the money to spend on a striker

Will Welbeck ever be good enough? I thought Phil Bardsley could cut it, then Danny Simpson, but that was probably because they were from Salford and I wanted it so badly. Welbeck is a Longsight lad, like Wesley Brown, and I would love for him to make it. Imagine that, our top scorer and superstar coming from 10 minutes away from the ground. It’s magic.

Welbeck has scored 6 goals in his last 9 appearances at Sunderland and is obviously benefitting from playing regular football.

But is he a Tevez type? Can he only score regularly when he’s playing every minute? All his goals for Sunderland have come in games which he started and that is a luxury he couldn’t afford at United, on current ability at the least.

I’d love for him to be good enough to stay at United but you do have to wonder if Steve Bruce may well get his man now… if the price is right, of course.

November 24th – Welbeck on the future: “For now, I’m looking short term. I just want to do my best in every game and I’m not thinking about whether I go back to United. My aim was to come here and get minutes on the pitch. At United, I was getting the odd chance here and there but I was never ready to take them. I’d miss loads of games and then I’d be thrown in and would struggle to do myself justice. It’s different here. I’m playing every game and I’m getting better and better. You can see I am benefiting from it. I’m confident and I’m really enjoying my football.”

December 2nd – Bruce on Welbeck: “Danny is playing terrifically well at the moment and the Premier League is beginning to sit up and take notice. I’m delighted for him because I think he’s really finding his feet in the Premier League with us and his success is our success. But, in terms of converting any loan player to a permanent signing, you have to accept it’s a fact of life that in most cases, the better they do the less chance you have of getting them. And the way that Danny is going, if he continues his progress, he’ll be out of the reach of any but the very biggest clubs around.”

December 5th – Fergie on Welbeck: “He’s doing brilliantly and he comes back to us at the end of his loan. The boy is a fantastic talent but the problem for Danny was that he wasn’t getting enough football. He also had problems in growing, in terms of his strength. He missed a lot of football because of that. But the strength is starting to come now. His physique is settled now and he’s starting to put on muscle. He’s a big, big lad – 6ft 2ins or 6ft 3ins.”

December 8th – Bruce on Welbeck and Onuoha: “I have to say they are both great lads as well. They are just the type you would love to bring to your club and make them permanent if you could. Whether that’s possible, we will see.”

December 19th – Bruce on Welbeck: “I always knew that was going to be a problem anyway, deep down, but you never know. Fergie has got a birthday coming up shortly and he might get generous in his old age. But I somehow doubt it. He’s a fantastic talent isn’t he? You can see that and he has benefited from playing regularly. The good thing about him is he has got infectious enthusiasm about him. He wants to play and train and he has been terrific. Manchester United have got a very good player on their hands.”