MARCUS Bontempelli could end his career as the greatest player in the history of the Western Bulldogs, according to AFL great and former Brownlow Medal winner Gerard Healy.
At just 21, Bontempelli is already a best and fairest winner in a premiership year for the Bulldogs and has continued his rapid rate of improvement across the last 12 months.
He was again at his heroic best in Saturday evening’s victory over Brisbane, dragging his team over the line with 23 disposals and two goals as the Dogs kept their finals hopes alive.
It was another superb individual display from Bontempelli, who Healy believes has the ability to surpass Footscray legend EJ Whitten as the best player in the club’s history.
“He is capable of reinventing forward-midfield play,” Healy said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch.
“He’s an extraordinary talent, this bloke.
“I’m not sure how good a player he can be in the history of that club, but he could well end up being the best player the club’s ever had — even greater than the great EJ Whitten.”
Bontempelli followed in Whitten’s footsteps by claiming his first club best and fairest in a premiership season and also played an integral role on grand final day.
Now, the young superstar is breathing life into the club’s slim hopes of going back-to-back and remains one of the sole reasons why the Dogs are still a flag threat heading into September.
However, according to dual premiership player David King, Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge must continue to persist with Bontempelli forward in order to give them that opportunity.
“This is why they’re still a chance,” King said.
“On the back of one man, he can be everything to them.
“Going forward of centre, I think he can be like Dustin Martin. He’s kicked six goals in four weeks, but he could have kicked six on the weekend. It was that sort of game.
“It’s about maximising your assets and putting him where he’s going to do the most damage. We’ve seen Robbie Gray go forward and we’ve seen Dustin Martin do the same thing.”
Already contracted through to 2019 thanks to a long-term extension signed two years ago, triple premiership star Jonathan Brown believes he will soon be worth far more than that.
“If Dusty’s worth $1.2 million, then Bont is worth that every day of the week,” Brown said.
“I just think the Bont is more of an aerial threat. We know Dusty’s good one-on-one, but Bont can win three-on-one in the air. He’s got that magnificent ability to get up with the one hand and drag it to ground like a basketballer.
“He’s also got the marketability, plus he’s a future captain as well, which we know Dustin Martin won’t be.
“He’s a premium. If that’s the market and Martin is worth $1.2 million, then Bont is probably worth more than that.”