Crystal Palace v Fulham: 'Fulham was the place for me' says Darren Bent despite interest from Palace

Ian Holloway spoke with the striker before he joined the Cottagers on loan

Darren Bent always knew Fulham was the right place for him, despite coming close to joining Monday's opponents Crystal Palace.

The 29-year-old arrived at Aston Villa in January 2011 to much fanfare, joining in an £18million deal that could have reached as high as £24million.

However, Bent's successful start to life in the West Midlands turned sour following the appointment of Paul Lambert.

Unwanted at Villa Park, a summer departure always looked inevitable even if Fulham did not always look like his final destination.

Newly-promoted Palace had been confident of bringing in the England international, only for manager Ian Holloway to be gazumped at the last minute.

The Eagles boss said "there are bigger sharks than us", but Bent insists he could not turn down the chance to move to Craven Cottage.

"There was a lot of talk [about Palace]," Bent said. "I spoke to Ian Holloway but I always knew Fulham was the place for me.

"I am here now and I am delighted to be here.

"No disrespect to Crystal Palace or Ian Holloway, it is a fantastic football club and he is a fantastic manager. I could only ever see myself coming to Fulham."

Bent was linked with a number of clubs during the summer, with Newcastle and Stoke potential suitors.

Sunderland, the club he left to join Aston Villa, were another interested in his services, although it was a move that Bent did not feel comfortable with.

"It was a flitter but it wasn't anything major," he said.

"When I was up there now, everything has changed from the chairman, to the manager, to the backroom staff.

"It is a completely different club. There were flitters but my only destination was Fulham."

Bent has impressed since arriving in south-west London, netting the winner against Stoke before the international break.

It was a victory that helped alleviate the pressure mounting on manager Martin Jol, who would ideally like Bent to play in tandem with Dimitar Berbatov.

The Bulgarian limped off in the second-half against Stoke but is fit to feature against Crystal Palace, leaving the Whites boss with an attacking conundrum.

"I've got very good strikers so there's always a choice to make," the Dutchman said.

"When I took Bent, for example, I told him he had to play with Berbatov, and that didn't happen.

"It happened once, against Newcastle United away, but in the second half against Everton when we beat them they played together.

"Against Stoke, Berba had to come off to bring on Bent and he scored.

"We haven't really played in the formation I had in mind but I won't tell you which formation that was."

PA

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