Marouane Chamakh will line-up for Ian Holloway’s top flight new boys Crystal Palace this season after arriving on a one-year deal from Arsenal, but news of a possible loan move for Aston Villa’s former England forward Darren Bent will have set hearts racing at Selhurst Park, with Sunday’s league opener at home to Tottenham Hotspur fast approaching.
Holloway’s Premier League formula of loading his squad with strikers very nearly came off for Blackpool a couple of seasons ago, when a final day defeat to Manchester United saw the Seasiders relegated in 19th place.
Blackpool were the joint-eighth top scorers in the division during the 2010/2011 season – with an impressive 55-goal haul – but the 78 goals they conceded was significantly higher than any other club.
Palace are in danger of repeating history, with no new defenders brought in to plug gaps in the Eagles leaky backline – at 62 goals, the second highest against total in the top half of the Championship last term – but if Holloway can secure Bent on a season-long loan they have a real chance of defying relegation odds of 53/100.
Bent’s Villa Park demise was something of head-scratcher in the early part of last season, but with 19-goal Christian Benteke hitting form as the campaign progressed it became apparent that manager Paul Lambert had no room in his team for the former Spurs and Sunderland man, whose high wages are a burden on the club’s tight finances.
The 29-year-old seemed Fulham-bound after initial talks with Newcastle went awry, but after a £4m bid from the Craven Cottage club was turned down by Villa, Palace now look the favourites to land Bent, whose haul of over 100 top flight goals puts him amongst the top 25 all-time Premier League marksmen.
A loan move to Palace may not seem like an attractive prospect to the former Ipswich Town youth, especially after Chamakh’s signing brought the number of strikers in the first-team squad up to six, following the early summer captures of Dwight Gayle and last season-loanees Stephen Dobbie and Kevin Philips.
However, with 40-year-old Phillips the only other forward with a proven Premier League goalscoring record, Bent could be confident of becoming the first name on Holloway’s team sheet were a move to materialise.