With just two first-team central defenders at the club prior to the signing in Bailey Wright and Danny Batth, Alex Neil was eager to strengthen this area as soon as possible.
Highly Rated Northern Ireland International Defender Signs From Arsenal
Daniel Ballard Signs From Arsenal
🥁 He's here…
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) June 30, 2022
Sunderland have completed their first signing of the summer. Highly-rated defender Daniel Ballard has signed from Arsenal. The 22-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the option of a further year. The fee is undisclosed.
The Northern Ireland international who has been capped 15 times by his country was close to joining fellow Championship side Burnley last week. However, the deal broke down in its final stages according to James McNicholas and Andy Jones of The Athletic.
The central defender has gained valuable EFL experience over the past two seasons. He won promotion from League One while on loan at Blackpool winning at Wembley in the playoff final. This was followed by a season in the Championship with Millwall. At The Den, he played 33 times helping the club to a ninth-place finish just six points off the playoff places
Despite signing for Arsenal in 2018, Ballard failed to make a first-team appearance for the Gunners. However, he has played 66 games so far in his career, scoring four goals.
New Signing Delighted Move is Complete
The fan base and size of this football club speaks for itself and having been up here to have a look around, it feels like an exciting place to be. Supporters can expect to see a player who loves defending and tackling – I’m more of a traditional centre half and I want to add those qualities to the team, whilst also bringing something a little extra. I’m now looking to take the next step forward in my career and I believe this is the perfect place to do it.”
Alex Neil on Daniel Ballard Signing
Sunderland’s head coach Alex Neil spoke after completing his first signing: He said: “First and foremost, Daniel will add competition. Callum Doyle’s loan deal ended in May and Arby Xhemajli left the club, so we wanted to add in that area and Daniel fits into our structure of being a young, up and coming player who also has Championship experience.
He fits the bill and he also knows what it takes to win, sampling success with Blackpool in the Play-Offs before having a year under his belt [in the second tier] with Millwall last season. We are really pleased to get this deal over the line.”