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Arsenal Academy: Ballard, Sheaf & Smith headed for new homes

That’s now seven young Gunners with their 2021-22 settled.

MK Dons v Arsenal: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

It was another busy week for Arsenal youth players as Daniel Ballard, Ben Sheaf, and Daniel Oyegoke confirmed their clubs for the upcoming season. As we reported late last month, academy right-back Daniel Oyegoke has opted to move to Brentford rather than signing a new contract with Arsenal. Meanwhile, another young midfielder is rumored to be heading back to League One on loan.

Daniel Ballard

One of Arsenal’s most promising prospects, Ballard took a significant step forward last season. In his first full season at the senior level, Ballard played 29 times for Blackpool in League One, helping them win the playoffs and promotion to the Championship. He also made his senior-level international debut for Northern Ireland, appearing for them eight times since last September. Ballard is now headed to Millwall on loan for a full season in the Championship. With the senior Arsenal side full of center-back options at the moment, Ballard getting a season of experience in the Championship, and for his national team, the Gunners could have a great homegrown CB prospect to consider in the coming years.

Ben Sheaf

Last season Sheaf made 32 appearances for the newly promoted Championship side, primarily as a defensive midfielder. After helping them finish 16th and secure their place in the second tier, Coventry City has made the permanent signing ahead of the ‘21-22 campaign. At 23, this is a great move for Sheaf. He continues as a starter in the Championship, with a club that could easily finish in the top half of the table this season.

Matt Smith

After spending last season on loan in League One with Charlton Athletic, it looks like the 20-year-old midfielder is heading back to the third tier for next season. Charles Watts broke the news this past week that Smith appears to be closing in on a loan move to Coventry City. While it would have been nice to see how Smith might have fared in the Championship, but a full season of starts is what he needs at the moment and for Arsenal to better evaluate his future with the club.

Recap:

  • Daniel Oyegoke - Brentford (Premier League), permanent move.
  • Zech Medley - Oostende (Belgian First Division), permanent move.
  • Trae Coyle - FC Lausanne–Sport (Swiss Super League), permanent move.
  • Mark McGuinness - Cardiff City (Championship), permanent move.
  • Ben Sheaf - Coventry City (Championship), permanent move.
  • Daniel Ballard - Millwall (Championship), full-season loan.
  • Matt Smith - Doncaster Rovers (League One), full-season loan. (*not finalized, but expected this coming week).

As move Arsenal academy players make loan or full moves ahead of the upcoming season we will continue to update this tracker.