Ballard’s new deal shows persistence pays off

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It is said that persistence pays off, but that doesn’t begin to tell the tale of Danny Ballard’s Arsenal career so far.

Yesterday was rather significant for the 18-year-old defender as he signed his first professional contract at the club where he was been developed since he was seven.

During that time, however, Ballard was twice told by the club that he was being released, only to subsequently be retained.

The most recent occasion came when the club were offering scholarship deals to members of the U16 squad in 2016, with Ballard being informed that he would be let go.

Ballard had trials elsewhere but was later contacted by Arsenal, who asked if he would be able to play in a youth friendly against Bayern Munich as another player was unavailable.

The centre-back was initially hesitant, but he eventually decided to take part in the game and he impressed to the extent that he was offered a two-year scholarship deal.

Since then Ballard has developed further and is now on professional terms, meaning he will be a fully-fledged member of the U23 squad from next season.

A player with a fierce winning mentality and impressive leadership skills, Ballard was the captain of Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup side last season as they reached the final of that competition.

In addition, he marked his debut for the U23s by scoring against Tottenham Hotspur, and next season he will look to gain plenty of further experience at that level.

There are, inevitably, still some aspects of Ballard’s game that require improvement. His disciplinary record is rather concerning as he picks up yellow cards with regularity due to rash challenges, while he can also find it difficult to deal with quick attackers at times.

Ballard does, though, deserve much credit just for reaching this point and he will be now aim to push on even further.

It won’t be easy for a young centre-back to make the breakthrough at Arsenal with a host of other prospects ahead of him including the likes of Konstantinos Mavropanos, Krystian Bielik and Ben Sheaf among others.

Ballard is, though, also capable of operating as a defensive-midfielder if required and produced some impressive performances in that position at U18 level at the start of last season.

There is much more hard work to come for Ballard as he attempts to break into the first-team but for now he deserves a lot of credit for defying the odds to get to this stage.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Naser ashka
Naser ashka

Good luck u beast

Ozenal
Ozenal

Hopefully after a few years and he gets a movie made about him

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

Great story.

dr Strange
dr Strange

He will make it.

Jimbo Jones
Jimbo Jones

Spot on. Sometimes it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s more about the size of the fight in the dog

Prakaz
Prakaz

All the best buddy

Heavenly Chapecoense
Heavenly Chapecoense

Ballard, when you go to the gym, take Zelalem with you.

OneBeatOff
OneBeatOff

That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. He had a long term injury no?

Tas Gunner
Tas Gunner

Inspirational.Well done lad!

Devlin
Devlin

Jorge, I keep hearing about us needing midfield reinforcements. Especially in the defensive role. I have not heard anything about looking into the development sides for such a reinforcement. I have some faith in Charlie Gilmour as I love his style of play and I think he is better than Mctominay or whatever his name is. Am I overating him or can he step in for the first team and hold his own?

Paul
Paul

I hope this isn’t a load of ballards?? Can we sign someone please? 🙂

leroy
leroy

how about gibbs?

Chidi
Chidi

Dancing his way through thick and thin… Stuff of fairy tales. Good luck to the lad!