New Rumor Links Columbus Crew With Former England International

Shaun Botterill

There is speculation that Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter is interested in bringing former England winger David Bentley to Columbus for a preseason audition.

The Columbus Crew likely won't be in talks with names like Frank Lampard or Ronaldinho about suiting up in central Ohio, but the new coaching staff may be attempting to bring in a name English soccer fans might recognize.

The blog MLS Transfers, which attempts to be a one-stop location for movement and contract negotiations in MLS, claims they received a tip from England that new Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter is attempting to convince David Bentley to come for a trial in January.

The winger began his career with Arsenal of the English Premier League at 13-years old, but was loaned out to Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers in consecutive years. Blackburn signed Bentley from the Gunners and he went on to make 88 appearances and scoring 13 goals.

Bentley was thought to be one of the up-and-coming talents of English football, believed by many to be a natural replacement for David Beckham at the international level.

During the 2006-07 campaign, Bentley scored seven goals and registered 13 assists on his way to being named the Rovers' Player of the Year.

Two seasons later, Tottenham splashed a reported £15 million on the midfielder and he signed a six-year contract. With Spurs, Bentley's form began to suffer, scoring only three goals in 42 appearances.

Bentley was sent on a series of loans over the next three years including a return to Blackburn, but was unable to find the form from his previous stint.

After the 2013 season, Bentley was released by Tottenham and is currently a free agent, allowing him to sign anywhere.

Bentley played eight times for the England under-21 squad and has seven caps with the senior team.

If the rumor is to be believed, there is little risk in offering a player with this potential a preseason trial. At 29-year old, Bentley is still in his prime and would provide vast experience on a young team - having played both in the EPL and the UEFA Cup.

The preseason would allow Berhalter to see Bentley in action and judge how hit fits with his Columbus club.

If Bentley is able to return to form in MLS he could be a dangerous player for the Crew. He could replace the retired Eddie Gaven as a winger who is comfortable moving to central midfield or playing behind a lone striker.

The potential move is just a rumor, but if something amounts from this, Bentley could fill a large void for the Black and Gold.

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