Sunderland near record Bent deal

Talks between Sunderland and Darren Bent are progressing today after the Tottenham striker was given permission to speak to the Black Cats about a potential club-record transfer.

The 25-year-old did not travel on Spurs' pre-season trip to China yesterday as, after a deal was clinched for Portsmouth's Peter Crouch, the former Charlton forward was allowed to remain at home to negotiate a move away from White Hart Lane.

An increasingly frustrated Sunderland manager Steve Bruce had threatened to pull the plug on a deal but it is now back on after Tottenham counterpart Harry Redknapp found a replacement in Crouch - a player Bruce was also keen on signing.

No fee has yet been agreed but the initial figure is likely to be in the region of £12m, which would eclipse the £9m paid to Hearts for goalkeeper Craig Gordon two years ago, and could rise higher depending on the deal struck between the clubs.

Redknapp today claimed an agreement was imminent but it is unlikely anything will be concluded today.

"Darren Bent could move. I believe he is close to doing a deal with Sunderland," said the Spurs boss in Beijing as he and his team touched down for the Barclays Asia Trophy which kicks-off tomorrow.

Despite a frustrating two seasons at White Hart Lane Bent scored 25 goals in 79 appearances, of which only 43 were starts.

Bruce is keen to add some proven quality to his forward line having already signed 21-year-old Fraizer Campbell from Manchester United to support Kenwyne Jones.

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