Millwall recruited Arsenal defender Daniel Ballard on loan in the summer transfer window.
The 22-year-old made the step up to the Championship for the first time in his career after a thoroughly successful spell with Blackpool in their promotion-winning campaign, and he has more than made good on his chance with the Lions.
Ballard spent a good chunk of the winter out through a knee injury, but he has been a huge hit in SE16. Across all competitions, the Arsenal loanee has played 27 times, netting one goal and helping keep eight clean sheets.
Unsurprisingly, his form has led to calls for a permanent deal from fans, and Millwall would be silly not to at least look into a full-time agreement.
When fit, Ballard has been a go-to in Gary Rowett’s back three this season.
Often featuring alongside Jake Cooper and Murray Wallace, the Arsenal loanee’s defensive contributions have been vital to Millwall’s success. Across 25 Championship appearances, Ballard averages 1.6 tackles, 1.7 interceptions and 3.5 clearances per game (WhoScored).
His aerial ability and knack for reading the game has made him an important player for the Lions, proving a force in the air defensively and a nuisance from set-pieces.
Although he doesn’t possess the widest range of passing, he has averaged a pass success rate of 72% and is usually more inclined to play short passes rather than sending long balls up the pitch.
Could a deal be done?
It remains to be seen what parent club Arsenal have planned for the Millwall talent, but Ballard certainly holds the potential to become a regular Premier League centre-back in the future.
The Northern Irishman has said that he would love to become a regular for Arsenal, but recently said it would be “brilliant” to spend another season on loan with Millwall if they win promotion to the Premier League.
A first-team spot in Mikel Arteta’s side seems a fair way away yet, so it remains to be seen what the Gunners have planned for Ballard. A permanent swoop wouldn’t come cheap, but it would definitely be worth exploring in the summer.