Could the Western Bulldogs do the unthinkable and trade star forward Jake Stringer?
That’s the surprising talk that emerged on Wednesday night, with the Footy Show reporting that player and club are near the end of their tether and open to discussing a swap in next month’s trade period.
Seven News Melbourne chief football reporter Mark Stevens suggested it could happen.
“Murmurs turning into thunder tonight re Jake Stringer leaving the Bulldogs in trade period,” he tweeted.
“Big currency, big chance.”
Stevens added that finalists Essendon could be interested, having spent time with the Bombers’ VFL team as a youngster.
The 2016 premiership player played just 16 games this year, proving wayward with his kicking and inconsistent with his impact on games.
It came on the back of being dropped to the VFL last season, just two rounds before the finals.
He made it back into the team and played all four do-or-die games but was not among the Dogs’ best players in the triumphs.
But this season was interrupted by knee and hamstring injuries at separate times, hampering his continued push to make a move into the midfield.
AFL great Tim Watson put his foot down on radio this morning, declaring the 23-year-old Stringer should not be sent to another club.
“I’ve got to say I am surprised,” he said on SEN.
“This bloke is an All Australian, a prodigious natural talent. At his best, and while it’s true we haven’t seen enough of that recently, a match-winner. Game-changer. They don’t grow on trees.
Stringer’s early exploits, which led to his selection in the 2015 All Australian team, drew comparisons to some of the game’s legends.
Watson believes the forward’s reputation has suffered as a result, fans and the media unable to let Stringer grow into the best player he can be.
“I don’t think Stringer has reached his full potential yet,” Watson said.
“I don’t think he’s a flash in the pan, I don’t think he’s a one-hit wonder. His consistent best is yet to come. There are better days ahead.
“He’s not the reincarnation of Gary Ablett Sr and he may have consumed his own bathwater with those lofty comparisons, but the bloke can play and I wouldn’t be turning him out yet.”
Stringer has one season left on a two-year contract extension signed in April 2015.