“Someone who can grow with the ambitions of the club” – Sunderland targeting move for 22-year-old: The verdict | OneFootball

“Someone who can grow with the ambitions of the club” – Sunderland targeting move for 22-year-old: The verdict

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Football League World

This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Sunderland have entered the race to recruit Arsenal centre-back Daniel Ballard, according to a Patreon report from Alan Nixon.

The 22-year-old previously looked set to join Burnley in a £2m deal – but that agreement fell through and that could give the Black Cats a real opportunity to secure his services, with Alex Neil’s side preferring a loan deal at this point.

However, they aren’t the only team in with a chance of winning his signature with former sides Blackpool and Millwall also thought to be keen on the young defender.

Quiz: Are these 20 Sunderland transfer facts true or false?

1 of 20

The club signed Trai Hume from Glentoran

True False

The central defender was an integral part of the Lions’ defence last term as they conceded at a rate of less than a goal per league game during the 2021/22 campaign, with that record nearly carrying them to a top-six finish.

Focusing less on Gary Rowett’s side and more on the Black Cats though, would this be a good signing for the latter? And is he a much-needed figure at the Stadium of Light?

We asked three of our writers at Football League World to give their verdicts.

Marcus Ally

This would definitely be a smart piece of business.

Ballard has been mightily impressive for Blackpool and Millwall in League One and the Championship in the last couple of seasons, but his pathway to the first team is blocked at Arsenal.

The Northern Ireland international should be playing in the second tier once again next season, and if that is possible on a permanent basis then it should be the player’s preferred option.

The Black Cats performed very well defensively at the back end of 2021/22, with Danny Batth and Bailey Wright building a great relationship at the heart of defence, but the jury is out on the duo’s capabilities at Championship level.

Signing Ballard would certainly increase the Black Cats’ chances of laying solid foundations in the second tier, to kick on and have a very comfortable first season since promotion.

Billy Mulley

Whoever wins the Daniel Ballard race will feel like they have won the lottery, with the young defender being one of the most exciting defensive talents around at the moment.

Still just 22 years of age, the ceiling is incredibly high for the former Arsenal man, enjoying a mighty impressive loan spell with Millwall last season, whilst enjoying a similar level of success the previous year with Blackpool

A graduate of the Arsenal academy, Ballard’s ability to progress forward with the ball is excellent, whilst he has developed into a physically dominant player during his loan spells.

A Northern Ireland international too, Ballard has gained lots of invaluable experience in a short career thus far.

He is also someone who can grow with the ambitions of the club.

Charlie Gregory

Sunderland need to make the kind of signings that will keep them in the Championship – or higher – for years to come and Ballard would certainly do that.

At 22 years old and with experience in the bag already, he is a signing that could pay off both now and in the future. He is already playing at a good level and given a few more years could easily be one of the standouts in his position.

He showcased at Millwall what he is capable of and the Lions would most definitely have had him back if they could.

Their loss though is Sunderland’s gain and it’s exactly the right kind of move from boss Alex Neil.

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