Starlet happy with new club after “Arsenal made it pretty clear”

The Arsenal starlet Daniel Ballard was not short of suitors when it was revealed that the Gunners were willing to allow him to find a permanent move away from the Emirates, after positive loan moves at Blackpool and Millwall which saw him become a regular in the senior Northern Ireland national side.

It is a shame really, as the 22 year old was hoping to become the first centre-back to come through the academy in generations, but with a raft of options available to Mikel Arteta in that position, it was very unlikely that he would be able to get his breakthrough.

So, after failing to come to terms with Burnley, the youngster has now found a new home at the Stadium of Light with Sunderland, and he will be aiming to help them to get back into the Premier League.

Ballard told the Sunderland Echo: “Arsenal made it pretty clear that there wasn’t a pathway through to the first team at this moment in time,”

“I think we sort of agreed that it was the best thing for me to look for a new challenge permanently.

“There was a lot of interest from a few clubs and it was just about picking the right one to progress with.

“It’ll definitely be a bit strange not being an Arsenal player, not having that bit of extra support and going back at the end of the season, but I definitely think I’ve picked the right club so that I don’t need that.

“Sunderland approached really early, they showed a really strong interest.

“That was really exciting for me.

“I had a lot of chats with the manager and the people above him, and they made really clear that I was one of the key targets and that they wanted me to be the first player through the door for them.

“That gave me an awful lot of confidence, just that they really wanted me here and also to be a really key part of the team.

“There’s [then] a lot of work that goes on, especially because of the fact that it’s not a loan so between the clubs there was a lot of negotiating to do,”

“Obviously I don’t have any input in that so you’re just waiting, hoping that something can get agreed.

“We’ve got it done relatively early which is good, that was the plan. You want that pre-season so you can get settled, get to know the lads.

“This is a great challenge and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Ballard is obviously very talented and admits that he still wants to keep improving at Sunderland. “I think as a player my defensive skills have always been probably my main strength, it’s something which comes really naturally to me because it’s a side of the game I really love,” Ballard continued.

“I think my stuff on the ball is probably the side of the game I can work on, because obviously the game has changed a lot in the past few years, so that’s been a key focus. I feel really confident with that now and it’s something which I’ll keep going with, so I can hopefully be that really well-rounded player.”

So, all we can say is good luck to Damiel, and hopefully we will see him play in the Premier League in the future. It’s just a shame that it won’t be with Arsenal…

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1 Comment

  1. Yes, let’s hope the loan move gives him a shot at the first team in future.

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