Arsenal loanee Daniel Ballard has admitted his goal is to one day break into the first team at the Emirates Stadium, as he pinpoints Bukayo Saka as inspiration.
The 22-year-old defender is currently on a season-long loan deal at Championship club Millwall, where he has played 11 times so far in the league – and has impressed in the process.
Ballard came through the Hale End academy, but has not yet made a competitive appearance at Arsenal and has been out on numerous loan spells to try and gain some valuable experience.
Now, the Gunners centre-back has opened up on what his plans are at the Emirates.
“Yeah, I think that’s got to be the goal,” Ballard replied to News At Den when asked if his plans involve becoming a first-team regular at Arsenal.
“Of course I’m fully focused on staying in this Millwall team and working extremely hard. I want to get as much game time as possible and help Millwall win every game possible.
“But, of course, there’s an end goal, whether it be next year or in two, three years, I think the main goal is to play for Arsenal.”
Ballard was then asked about Bukayo Saka, who has quickly established himself as one of the club’s most important players and opened up on the personality of the England international.
“He’s just an amazing character, certainly the nicest footballer I’ve ever met,” Ballard said on Saka.
“He’s such as a genuine, hard-working person. What you see in glimpses is exactly what he’s like. It’s not show, it’s not acting. He’s probably one of Arsenal’s best players – and he’s shown that again this season.”
Former West Brom defender Gareth McAuley urged Arteta earlier in the season to recall Ballard from his loan and put him in the first team.
He wrote in the Belfast Telegraph: “If I were Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, I’d be recalling Daniel Ballard from his loan spell at Millwall and placing the young Northern Ireland international in my struggling Gunners team.
“I know Daniel is not Mikel’s type of defender — he probably does not 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 [for Northern Ireland] scene.”
Source by Football London