What will Dan Ballard bring to Burnley?
Daniel Ballard of Northern Ireland during the international friendly match between Northern Ireland and Hungary at Windsor Park in Belfast. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Burnley are reportedly set to sign Arsenal and Northern Ireland defender Dan Ballard, for a fee of around £2m.

This signing comes after the losses of club stalwart and captain Ben Mee, and fellow centre-back James Tarkowski.

New manager Vincent Kompany knows that due to this, defensive additions must be a priority this summer, along with other positions that look to need a 'freshen' up.

With five weeks to go before the start of the season, it is imperative that The Clarets move quickly on the transfer front, and with this signing it would be a good start towards doing that.

  • Profile

Ballard is 22-years-old and has 66 professional appearances to his name, all coming through loan spells at Swindon Town, Blackpool and Millwall respectively.

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Despite being at Arsenal since the age of eight, and coming through the ranks at The Gunners, Ballard has never made an appearance for the club.

The 6ft2in defender has 16 caps for Northern Ireland, with his most recent coming in a UEFA Nations League game against Cyprus, in which the Green and White Army drew 2-2.

He was impressive in last season's loan spell at Millwall, making 31 appearances in the league for The Lions, helping Gary Rowett's side to a ninth-place finish, with eight clean sheets earned.

  • Comparison to Burnley's centre-backs.

Nathan Collins

Ballard saw slightly more first-team minute than fellow 22-year-old Collins last season, playing in 31 games compared the the Burnley defenders 18 appearances.

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With new manager Kompany's style looking like it will depend on the defender's playing out with the ball, passing accuracy will be crucial.

Ballard just bettered Collins in this area last season, with a 70.9 pass success rate, with Collins recording a 69.2, according to WhoScored stats.

The Northern Irish international was also stronger in the air, winning 3.9 of his aerial duels compared to Irishman Collins' 3.1.

Finally, in key defensive areas, such as clearances and blocks Collins wins out, however the two are matched for tackling success rate and Ballard has a higher rate of interceptions per game.

It is hard to compare the two, as they were playing at different levels, but given Ballard did better Collins in some areas, it looks as though he could be up there with who many suggest to be Burnley's most talented defender.

Kevin Long

This is a tough comparison to make, as Long has massively lacked in gametime this season, only playing four in the Premier League for The Clarets.

However, despite playing in many more fixtures than Long, the Gunners defender Ballard was superior in aerial battles with Long only winning 2.2 of his, compared to the 3.9 of Ballard.

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And the ex-Blackpool man also had a better average match rating of 6.93, in contrast to Long's 6.22, despite again playing almost eight times more games than the Irish defender who has been at Burnley for 12 years without really breaking into the side.

Finally, Ballard finds himself massively superior in tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocks per game.

Despite being a hard to judge the differences between Long and Ballard due to the latters lack of gametime and playing in a higher division, it is pretty clear to see that the youngster would be an improvement on the long-standing current defender.

  • Will Ballard be a successful signing?

In short, all signs point to yes.

He won't have to make the jump up to the Premier League so his stats still relate to the current division Burnley's are in.

And at the rumoured price of £2m it looks as though Kompany has pulled of a real coup here, in someone that is certainly worthy of partnering the impressive Collins.

If this is the first signing of the new era at Turf Moor, it is an impressive one, and one that Burnley fans should be excited by.