That is according to a report from The Athletic’s Michael Walker, who claims that the 22-year-old defender was wanted by Burnley and Sheffield United but looks set to move to Wearside to join up with Championship returnees, Sunderland AFC.
Taking to his personal Twitter account to issue an update, Walker said:
“Daniel Ballard on Wearside completing a move from Arsenal to Sunderland. The 22 yr-old defender, Northern Ireland international, was wanted by Burnley & Sheff Utd. Experienced in C’ship with Millwall, Ballard is tough, ball-playing c-half. Strong signing for promoted club.”
Quite simply, the latest update surrounding Ballard’s proposed move to Sunderland bodes entirely well for the Black Cats and for Alex Neil in particular, who recently made an admission on wanting to add more quality and depth to squad, in an interview conducted by the club’s official website. The Black Cats’ boss said:
“You need to fight tooth and nail for every point. Providing we understand that, providing we go and try and do the best we possibly can in the recruitment window, and obviously add as much quality and depth to the squad as we can, we’ll give ourselves the best chance of being successful.”
Ballard found himself on loan at Millwall last season, making a huge impact in Gary Rowett’s side having placed himself amongst the top three players in the squad in four different categories.
His average of 31.4 accurate passes, 3.1 accurate long balls, 1.7 interceptions and 3.6 clearances per 90 have made him a sought after asset in England’s second-tier and in Rowett’s defence-first system, helped to guide the Lions to become the sixth-best defence in the league, conceding just 45 goals at a goals conceded per match rate of 1.0.
His 31 Championship appearances will come as a big boost in a newly-promoted Sunderland side who will no doubt face a tough test in their survival bid for the upcoming campaign.
And if Sunderland can get this deal wrapped up, Neil will no doubt be over the moon at the signing of a young, yet experienced central defender.