Familiar face helped Sunderland win race for latest summer signing | OneFootball

Familiar face helped Sunderland win race for latest summer signing

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Football League World

New Sunderland signing Dan Ballard has revealed that Elliot Embleton helped to convince him make the move to the Black Cats amid interest from other Championship teams.

The North East club confirmed yesterday that they’d signed the centre-back from Arsenal, with the 22-year-old penning a three-year deal at the Stadium of Light.

A number of second tier sides have been linked with Ballard this summer, including Blackpool and Millwall, so it’s a testament to their ambition and their draw that the newly-promoted Black Cats won the race.

It seems they had an advantage in their pursuit of the defender, though, as he revealed in his first interview with the club.

He said: “I was extremely close to [Elliott Embleton] at Blackpool. We spent a lot of time together and had a successful year there getting promotion.

“The experience of Corry [Evans], knowing him at Northern Ireland, it’s nice having a few mates coming into the team. Help you settle down quicker. That was also a big factor in wanting to come here.

“I’ve been speaking to Embo especially a lot recently and he’s been convincing me to make the move.”

On what else drew him to Sunderland, Ballard said: “I think the fanbase, the size of the club, the history of the club. You can see it’s a Premier League club with the stadium, the setup, and the fans. That was extremely appealing.

“Getting up here, having a look around, getting a feel for the place. It’s an exciting place to come.”

Quiz: The celebrities that support Sunderland – But how well do you know them?

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The Verdict

Embleton is already a popular figure at the Stadium of Light, having bagged the opener at Wembley, but this is likely to make his stock rise even higher with the fans.

Signing Ballard looks like a phenomenal bit of business. The centre-back was a top performer at play-off chasing Millwall last season and will certainly bring Championship quality to Alex Neil’s squad.

At 22, he’s got his best football ahead of him and could reach impressive heights as he gains more senior experience.

With that in mind, convincing him to sign a three-year deal was very smart, and could see them get a big payday in the future.

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