Daniel Ballard is one of the few Arsenal players who has had the privilege of playing against world football’s golden boy Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian is getting better every time he steps onto the pitch and there is no doubt that he will go on to become one of the best players in the world very soon.
Ballard started for Northern Ireland against Norway twice last year and he was on the losing side on both occasions. Haaland and co ran riot in the first game, and the young Arsenal defender admitted that he learned a lot from watching the Borussia Dortmund man up close.
He said about Haaland on the Fancy A Kickabout podcast: “Everyone’s seen the quality he has. The big thing I learnt was the mentality he approached them games with. It wasn’t just another game, he was so wired in.
“I was walking out of the tunnel and you see the player like that – 6ft 4in, his eyes are beaming at you and he’s ready for that challenge. You’d think that a superstar like that will come at 80 per cent, but no, he was ready to fight for everything.
“If you’re not ready, he will run all over you and he did that a little bit at Windsor Park when we lost.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
That is exactly the type of mentality that will take you to the very top. Haaland has been in the headlines for a couple of years now and the Norwegian is proving to be the real deal.
His brace in the Champions League last night took him to 31 goals and eight assists in just 29 games this season. That is a record Lionel Messi would be proud of, and considering that Haaland is still only 20, he might well reach the heights that the legendary Argentine has.
The experience of playing against someone as good as Haaland is brilliant for young Ballard. The Irishman is having a good season out on loan at Blackpool, and if he can continue progressing, he will catch Mikel Arteta’s eye very soon.