Sunderland AFC is delighted to announce the signing of Daniel Ballard.
The defender arrives at the Stadium of Light from Arsenal for an undisclosed fee, signing a three-year contract with a Club option of a further year.
Ballard, 22, returns to the Sky Bet Championship after enjoying an impressive 2021-22 campaign with Millwall, during which he made 31 appearances in the second tier as the Lions finished ninth.
The defender has also spent time on loan with Swindon Town and Blackpool, winning promotion alongside Elliot Embleton for the latter in 2021, and he has over 66 senior appearances under his belt.
Described as ‘a tough-tackling defender with the passing range of a midfielder’, Ballard twice captained the Gunners to the FA Youth Cup Final after joining the Londoners’ academy aged eight.
The 22-year-old has also earned international recognition during his ever-blossoming career, featuring 15 times for Northern Ireland and scoring two goals.
Ballard said: “It feels amazing to be here and I’m extremely happy. 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 added: “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.”