Arsenal are open to selling Daniel Ballard if his valuation is met this summer, though they do plan to include a buy-back clause in the deal.
The Gunners have held talks with Ballard’s representatives and come to a mutual agreement that the centre-back will be available for transfer in the coming months.
The issue with Ballard staying at Arsenal is that he won’t get the opportunity for consistent minutes. With two years left, a sale is preferred to another loan.
Arsenal will look to include a buy-back clause, and there are several clubs already interested, including his former loan club Millwall.
With William Saliba returning from loan to challenge Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White, it seems clear that Ballard would have a tough time earning regular minutes.
With Arsenal playing in the Europa League next season, there’s a hope that some youth players will get chances to impress in the group stage. But at centre-back, I’m not sure that’s going to be possible.
We have to bear in mind that Saliba played every minute of the Europa League group stage for Marseille this season, on top of playing 17 of their 18 Ligue 1 games before the turn of the year.
Now Saliba is coming back to compete with White and Gabriel, Arsenal’s second and third busiest outfield players this campaign. Not to mention Rob Holding.
Keeping those four happy with enough minutes on the field is already going to be a struggle. Adding Ballard into the mix makes it a near-impossible task.
A good sale with a buy-back clause seems like it would work well for all parties.
Arsenal could also go back for the defender at a later date if he really reaches his potential, and he would get a fresh start and consistent games in the meantime.
Ballard ends the campaign having made 33 appearances (31 starts), a very solid campaign considering his mid-season knee surgery. He should be attracting interest from one of Europe’s top leagues this summer.
As well as rising to every challenge Arsenal have set him with his loan spells, the 22-year-old has also become a regular Northern Ireland international – racking up 13 caps already.