Almost Done: Arsenal starlet on the verge to make permanent switch to Sunderland

Daniel Ballard has agreed a move to Championship outfits Sunderland, after a move to Burnley fell through earlier last week.

The 22-year-old defender has spent time on loan at Swindon Town and Blackpool before playing 31 games in the Championship for Millwall last campaign.

The Northern Ireland international has never made a senior appearance for the North London giants and his stay at the club is close to an end as he prepares to move north.

The Athletic claims that Ballard very nearly joined Burnley last week, however, terms could not be agreed despite significant talks taking place.

The likes of ex-club Blackpool and Sheffield United were believed to be interested in his services, however, it is newly-promoted club, Sunderland who have won the race for his signature.

Despite never making the cut for Arsenal, Ballard has proved himself on the international stage, already picking up 15 caps for Northern Ireland and scoring two goals.

Former Northern Ireland centre-back Gareth McAuley reckoned Ballard was good enough to play in Gunner’s defence last campaign, especially after the Gunners had made a disappointing start to the season.

‘If I were Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, I’d be recalling Daniel Ballard from his loan spell at Millwall and placing young Northern Ireland international in my struggling Gunners team,’ he told the Belfast Telegraph in September last year.

‘I know Daniel isn’t Mikel’s type of defender — he probably doesn’t match his philosophy in how he wants the game to be played — but maybe he should be with the way Arsenal have started their season.

‘Daniel just keeps on getting better and better with every game he plays in, especially on the international scene.’