Sunderland defender Dan Ballard is being pursued by Burnley.
Sunderland centre-back Dan Ballard has piqued the curiosity of Burnley following his good displays for the Championship club. Who exactly is Dan Ballard?
The 24-year-old Northern Ireland international came up through the ranks at Arsenal, but he understandably struggled for playing time with the Gunners.
As a result, he was sent out to gain playing time, with Ballard flourishing at Blackpool before enjoying another profitable loan with Millwall in the 2021/22 season.
Sunderland won the race to sign the defender in June last year, after numerous second-tier clubs expressed interest.
Burnley is interested in Ballard’s form.
Ballard has been a crucial component for Tony Mowbray’s side since his arrival on Wearside, taking them to the play-offs last season.
And it’s been much of the same in the early months of this season, with Ballard starting every game to help Sunderland climb to fourth place.
Sunderland may have to fight to keep Ballard at the Stadium of Light, as Sun columnist Alan Nixon has revealed that he is on Burnley’s radar.
According to the update, the Clarets are keeping a close eye on the centre-back ahead of the January transfer window, when they may make a move.
How much would Dan Ballard set you back?
Let’s just say this isn’t going to be a simple transaction for Burnley, especially if they try to sign Ballard in January.
He has already been recognised for his good form by Sunderland, with Ballard having signed a contract back in August that ties him to the club until the summer of 2027. So, they are under no pressure whatsoever to cash in.
Of course, there’s a high possibility that Mowbray’s men will be in the play-off picture come January as well, and we all know the riches that promotion brings.
With that in mind, it could take a truly ridiculous offer to sign Ballard in the New Year, although it could be a different story if Sunderland miss out on promotion in the summer, but you would imagine Burnley would need to stay in the Premier League for that to be an appealing option to the player.
A crazy offer in a couple of months can’t be ruled out as Burnley battle to survive, but Sunderland will be in a relaxed position over Ballard as they have protected him as an asset, and he continues to play a vital role on the pitch.
What happens next for Sunderland?
Sunderland were thrashed 4-0 by rivals Middlesbrough on Saturday, despite Dan Neil’s dubious red card at 0-0 visibly changing the game.
In the grand scheme of things, the Black Cats are in the play-offs after 11 games, and while the gap to the top two is certainly greater than they would have liked, the reality is that Leicester and Ipswich are setting a fantastic pace right now.
Sunderland will be satisfied with how things have gone, and they return to action after the international break against Stoke, who are led by former manager Alex Neil.