London: Aston Villa completed the club record 18 million-pound signing of England striker Darren Bent from Sunderland in a desperate attempt to climb clear of the relegation zone.
The prolific 26-year-old joined Sunderland for an initial 10 million pounds (USD 15.86 million) from Tottenham Hotspur in 2009 and the total fee for his latest move could rise to 24 million.
Villa`s previous record was the 12 million-pound deals that brought James Milner and Stewart Downing to Villa Park.
Bent signed a four-and-a-half year contract and could make his debut in Saturday`s home game against Manchester City, the Premier League club said in a statement on their website.
Bent, who began his career with Ipswich Town, scored 25 goals in his first season at Sunderland and has netted 11 in the current campaign. He has one goal from his seven England appearances, most as a substitute.
"Aston Villa is a massive football club and as soon as I knew they were interested in signing me I wanted to join," Bent told reporters.
"The size of the football club and the history of the club are major reasons for me coming here.”
"There are some top, top players here too, real quality, and I`ve been able to speak to the manager and the owner about their ambitions for the club."