Sunderland centre-back Dan Ballard has been catching the eye for some time, and he’s drawn interest from the Premier League before.
Sunderland signed him from Arsenal on a permanent basis last summer and after going from strength to strength in red and white, he’s attracting admiring glances again.
Reporter Alan Nixon has shared on his Patreon that Burnley, who have been linked with Ballard before, are eyeing him up again. The Clarets are said to be making checks on the Northern Irishman ahead of this winter.
With that said, Sunderland would be wise to keep some replacements in mind. Here, we put forward three worth considering…
Ronnie Edwards – Peterborough United
Edwards is one of the country’s most promising young centre-backs. It felt as though the summer would finally bring him a move up the leagues but it failed to materialise.
The 20-year-old would be a statement signing for a Championship club but given Sunderland’s track record, they could be a great destination for Edwards. The only concern might be that if he was signed as a Ballard replacement, a pairing of him and Luke O’Nien could be a little on the short side.
Arouna Sangante – Le Havre
Perhaps a bit ambitious, but given how Sunderland have tapped into the French market before, Sangante may be one on their radar. Besides, a sale of Ballard would mean a good amount of money can be spent on signing a replacement.
At 21, Sangante is already captain of Ligue 1 side Le Havre. He’s a towering presence at the back with a bright future and if Sunderland are around the top end of the table, it could be worth looking into tempting him to the north east before top clubs take note of his abilities.
Charlie Hughes – Wigan Athletic
Last but not least is Charlie Hughes, another young star making a name for himself in League One.
He was thrust into the limelight over the second half of last season and has really cemented himself as a star for Wigan Athletic. He’ll be drawing admiring glances of his own from the top leagues though, so a deal could be tough.