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Sunderland “in pole position” to sign Arsenal defender Dan Ballard - but is he any good?

Following Sunderland’s recent link in the media with Arsenal centre-back Dan Ballard, Matty spoke to Kai Bennett of That Millwall Podcast to find out how he performed on loan last season...

Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Dan Ballard was a regular in the Millwall side last season, what has attracted so many clubs to come in for him?

Kai Bennett: I think with Daniel Ballard, it is a number of different things. He not only has the quality on the ball - with his long range passing - but also has the strength and mobility to win headers and make important interceptions.

MC: In terms of style, is the Arsenal defender more of a ball playing or a more traditional no-nonsense centre-back?

KB: He is a bit of both. Whilst he won’t let a striker win the ball in the air against him, he’s also got a fantastic long range pass on him. He made two long passes last season that led to goals. But in terms of being a no nonsense centre-back, he’s not afraid to make a challenge.

MC: Sunderland mixed between a back three and two throughout last season, which system is Ballard most suited to?

KB: Millwall played a back five pretty much every game last season so therefore I would say Ballard is suited to a back five. He was excellent on the right side with his calm nature and ability to work so well with Shaun Hutchinson and Jake Cooper.

Millwall v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship - The Den
Ballard made 33 appearances on loan at Millwall last season, scoring once.
Photo by Jacques Feeney/PA Images via Getty Images

MC: Given that he is massively unlikely to break into the Arsenal team, do you think this transfer is a case of Ballard looking to find a more permanent home where he can settle and push on after three loans away?

KB: I believe so. He also massively deserves it. Everywhere he has gone on loan, the fans have had nothing but good things to say about him. He gives his all for every club he plays at and now it’s time for him to find a permanent home.

MC: Aged just 22, in terms of potential, how far do you think Ballard can go in his career?

KB: Very far. I think whoever gets him on a permanent deal is on to a winner. His attributes now as well as his potential are very exciting. He will be good enough to play in the Premier League in a few years time, for sure.

MC: Should he join Sunderland, do you think is better than Danny Baath and Bailey Wright who are both experienced Championship defenders?

KB: Despite both of them being good players, Daniel Ballard is a class above. His game is so well rounded, there isn’t much Ballard struggles to do. He will fit well with them too if he were to join and could form a good partnership with them.

Blackpool v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Final
Ballard also won promotion from League One with Blackpool alongside Sunderland’s Elliot Embleton.
Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

MC: Burnley were reportedly set to pay £2m for the Northern Irish defender before pulling out, do you think that price would be justified?

KB: Absolutely. If a club was to pay £2million now, in a couple of years that figure could go up about five or so times. For his potential, that price is a bargain and I would love Millwall to pay it.

MC: Sunderland and Blackpool were linked with the defender in addition to Millwall, do you think the fact he has already settled and played regular football for your side puts you in pole position to sign him?

KB: I’d hope so. Daniel Ballard was a great player for us last season and had a great connection with the Millwall supporters. Hopefully, because of all this that gives us the upper hand in negotiations.


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