This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Millwall boss Gary Rowett has said that the club would be keen to sign Arsenal defender Dan Ballard permanently this summer, but only if the price is right.
The Lions boss told News at Den: “Would we want to bring Dan Ballard back to the club at a price that we felt was the right price for us? Of course, we would.”
Ballard spent the 2021/22 campaign on loan at The Den, making 30 Championship appearances for the club as they just missed out on the play-offs.
With the above in mind, we asked our writers here at FLW what they thought Millwall should be prepared to pay for the 22-year-old this summer.
I think this one is going to be out of Millwall’s price range sadly.
Ballard has performed very well for the Lions and Blackpool in 2020/21, gaining valuable experience for a central defender at just 22 years of age.
The Northern Ireland international receives greater exposure for Ian Baraclugh’s men and therefore the Lions will not be alone in pursuit of his services.
Arsenal have a clause in his contract, that runs until the summer of 2023, to extend it by a further two years and therefore looking at a transfer fee to buy him out of that, to hazard a guess we are talking somewhere between £2 million and £4 million, which would be an enormous chunk of the South Londoners’ summer budget.
£1 million would be an ambitious spend from the Lions, but the chances are that Arsenal will want more than that.
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In order to have the best chance of signing Ballard, Millwall may need to break their transfer record this summer.
The Lions paid a fee believed to be in the region of £1.2m for Ryan Leonard in 2019 and are likely to face competition for Ballard’s signature.
When you consider that the defender managed to produce a host of impressive performances during his loan spell last season, Millwall ought to be looking to splash the cash on him.
In the 30 appearances that he made for the Lions in the second-tier, Ballard illustrated that he is more than capable of delivering the goods at this level as he averaged an impressive WhoScored match rating of 6.94.
It all depends on the budget Millwall have available to them, but they may need seven-figure fee here.
Arsenal will be well aware of the quality that he possesses, and will therefore be keen to get a reasonable fee for him, and they will not be the only ones alerted to his ability.
Given Ballard’s performances during his recent loan spells, it would be a surprise if there are not offers made for him by clubs other than Millwall, given there are plenty of others who could benefit from the addition of another centre back.
With that in mind, you feel that if Millwall are to win this transfer race, it could be argued that they will have to beat off interest from elsewhere in a bidding war, meaning a fee of around £1million feels like it could come into play here.