The Northern Irishman previously looked set to head to second-tier outfit Burnley with a £2m deal reported to have been agreed – but since then – the Clarets have pulled out of the race with other irons in the fire.
One of these alternative options is Taylor Harwood-Bellis, though fellow Manchester City defender CJ Egan-Riley is closer to arriving at Turf Moor after a permanent deal was agreed between the two clubs.
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The Seasiders, Lions and Black Cats are all preparing to capitalise on Vincent Kompany’s decision to snub Ballard, with the defender already spending time with the former two clubs on loan in recent years.
Making the step up to the second tier with Gary Rowett’s side last term, he was a key figure in helping the London-based side to push for a top-six finish with the club only conceding just 45 goals in 46 league games.
Ballard may be allowed to exit the Emirates Stadium on a permanent basis with Mikel Arteta unlikely to use him regularly next season, though it’s thought Alex Neil’s side would prefer a loan move for the 22-year-old at this stage.
This would be a great move for all three clubs, with the trio all arguably in need of addressing this position in the coming months.
Ballard was a real asset for Millwall last term and with Alex Pearce also leaving The Den, the return of the Arsenal man would be a big boost as they look to remain solid again next season.
And after having a seven-figure bid rejected for Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson rejected, it looks as though they are willing to spend money this summer so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they were to seal a long-term agreement for his services.
The Seasiders would also benefit from his contributions and you just feel his arrival would create a feel-good factor at Bloomfield Road again, a boost that’s much needed following the departure of Neil Critchley.
Sunderland may have Bailey Wright and Danny Batth at their disposal as two experienced centre-backs, but they need competition and more depth there with Callum Doyle returning to Manchester City and the 22-year-old would be a superb addition, even if he only arrived on loan.