Daniel Ballard is currently on loan at Millwall from Arsenal, and Lions boss Gary Rowett says he would ‘welcome’ the defender back on loan this summer.
The 22-year-old defender has been a key part of Millwall’s success at times throughout the 2021/22 campaign and has featured heavily in the second tier.
Manager Rowett has deployed Ballard 31 times in the league this season, in a campaign where another six points for Millwall would’ve seen them achieve a top-six finish.
The Arsenal loanee has impressed in his performances and if the option arose Millwall fans probably wouldn’t turn another loan deal down, but Rowett believes the Gunners may send him to another club.
He told London News Online:
“It’s really simple with Dan. He’s done really well. If Dan was available again we would certainly welcome him back.
“But I don’t expect he will be [coming back to Millwall] because I think Arsenal will probably seek a different type of challenge for him. It’s what those type of clubs tend to do.”
It would be a shame for Millwall fans if this is the last we’ve seen of Ballard at The Den, but if Arsenal’s development team don’t believe Millwall is a big enough challenge now then it’s likely they’ll opt for a top-end Championship side, or even a lower-half Premier League side to really test Ballard’s ability.
If we assume Ballard doesn’t return and Rowett manages to retain the rest of their centre backs then that would leave them with four options. However, in reality this probably won’t happen and they’ll need to delve into the market this summer.
A step in the right direction…
Millwall have finished this season with seven more points than they did in the 2020/21 campaign and as long as they can maintain this progress and maximise their recruitment, there is no reason why they can’t be genuine top-six contenders next time round.
A start to achieving this could be managing to tempt players like Ballard to spend another year at the club, although if that doesn’t happen, investment will be key to Rowett’s chances next season.