Dan Ballard reveals former Blackpool teammate helped persuade him to join Sunderland

Dan Ballard has revealed his former Blackpool teammate Elliot Embleton helped persuade him to join Sunderland.

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The former Arsenal defender has made a permanent switch to the Stadium of Light, signing a three-year deal with the Championship newcomers, plus an option for a further year.

“It feels amazing to be here and I'm extremely happy,” he told Sunderland's official website.

“The fanbase and size of this football club speaks for itself and having been up here to have a look around, it feels like an exciting place to be.

“Supporters can expect to see a player who loves defending and tackling. I'm more of a traditional centre-half and I want to add those qualities to the team, while also bringing something a little extra.”

Ballard reunites with his former Blackpool teammate Embleton, who helped the Seasiders win promotion from League One during the 2020/21 season.

Embleton and Ballard enjoyed successful loan spells with the Seasiders during the 2020/21 season

And the 22-year-old admits the midfielder helped make up his mind when weighing up his next move

“I’ve been speaking to Embo quite a lot recently,” Ballard said.

“He’s been convincing me to make the move.”

Stevenage-born Ballard joined Arsenal's academy at the age of eight but never made a senior appearance for the first-team.

After a successful loan spell with the Seasiders, Pool were keen to bring him back for a second season, but the centre-back opted to stay in the capital and join Millwall.

Ballard made 31 appearances last season as he helped Gary Rowett’s side finish in the top half of the Championship table.

Following talks with Arsenal, the defender was told he was free to leave North London if the right offer came in for him – which has now arrived, with Sunderland agreeing an undisclosed fee.

“First and foremost, Daniel will add competition,” Sunderland boss Alex Neil said.

“Daniel fits into our structure of being a young, up-and-coming player who also has Championship experience.

“He fits the bill and he also knows what it takes to win, sampling success with Blackpool in the play-offs before having a year under his belt with Millwall last season.

“We are really pleased to get this deal over the line.”