Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has admitted clubs have to pay over the odds if they want to get hold of decent players in January.
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The two most expensive purchases of the current transfer window will be on show at Villa Park on Saturday when City visit Aston Villa.
It will allow a direct comparison between the Blues’ £27million new-boy Edin Dzeko, and Darren Bent, who could cost Villa £24million following his shock switch from Sunderland.
Spending of that magnitude is one of the reasons why Sir Alex Ferguson is amongst those who feel there is no value in the transfer market.
The counter argument is that clubs must stump up the going rate if they want to get the players they need.
And in January, Mancini feels that means coming up with a little bit more.
"I am happy Aston Villa spent that money on Bent. It shows that it is not just Manchester City doing it," Mancini smiled. "When you want to take a player in January, you must pay more than at the end of the season.
"I don’t know how much Aston Villa have paid for Darren Bent and I don’t know if we paid the right money for Edin Dzeko.
"But Bent and Dzeko were on the market. Real Madrid are looking for a striker now and they can spend money. But it is difficult."
It could also be argued Villa are paying a premium because of Bent’s nationality.
Often, it has been claimed English players cost far more than their continental counterparts.
"Sometimes English players do cost a lot of money," admitted Mancini.
"But Darren Bent was an important player for Sunderland. If a big offer comes in for a player like that, it is normal that the other club would sell."
Mancini has no doubt Bent will prove an astute purchase for Villa.
In a career that has taken him from Ipswich to Charlton and on to Tottenham before he arrived at Sunderland in 2009, Bent has proved himself to be a goalscorer of the highest order.
For all Villa’s troubles at the wrong end of the table, there is no reason to assume Bent will lose the happy knack of finding the net, which should ensure the Midlands club rise to a status more befitting Mancini’s view of them.
"They changed their manager at the start of the season, which is always hard.
"But they don’t deserve to be where they are. They are in a false position and Gerard (Houllier) has the experience to get them higher up the table.
"Certainly, this game will be harder for us because, with Darren Bent, Aston Villa will improve a lot."
Whether they will improve enough to beat a side who put four goals past them at Eastlands three weeks ago is open to debate, especially as Dzeko’s availability compensates for the absence of Mario Balotelli, who scored a hat-trick during that meeting at Eastlands.
Unlike Balotelli, Dzeko looks like being the kind of player who reserves his eye-catching performances for what happens on the field, with Mancini confirming the Bosnian has impressed during his first two weeks at the club.
"Like everyone else who comes from another country, he needs four or five games to understand the Premier League because it is different from the other championships," said Mancini. "But Edin is working very hard."
The workrate of skipper Carlos Tevez has never been questioned.
And, with his two daughters on an extended visit to England, little wonder the South American is in top form too.
"At the moment, Carlos is happy," said Mancini. "He has his family here and he is scoring in every game. If he continues like that I hope they can stay for the entire season."