LONDON (Reuters) -- Sunderland and England striker Darren Bent submitted a written transfer request on Monday amid British media reports of interest from Premier League rivals Aston Villa.

"The club can confirm that it received a written transfer from Darren Bent following yesterday's Wear-Tyne derby match," Sunderland said in a brief club statement on Monday.

The 26-year-old pacy striker joined Sunderland for an initial 10 million pounds ($15.86 million) from Tottenham Hotspur in August 2009, hitting 25 goals last season and 11 in this campaign.

British media reported on Monday that relegation threatened Villa had bid 18 million pounds for Bent. Villa sit 17th in the league after 22 games, while Sunderland occupy sixth with 34.

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