Will he stay? Where will he go?
A question made famous by legendary English rockers The Clash (or at least a variation of it) is quickly becoming one of the biggest talking points of the AFL season, and it concerns the future of Richmond superstar Dustin Martin.
Norm Smith’s three-time medalist could still be under contract with the Tigers until the end of 2024, but speculation continues to grow that he may not want to honor the remaining two years of that deal.
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His future could lie in Sydney if he chooses to leave Richmond, and that would equate to pretty nice compensation for the Tigers if a trade of this magnitude happens, not to mention the salary cap space that would be freed up.
As Fox Footy reporter Jon Ralph explained earlier this year, the Swans would have to do a lot for a Martin trade to happen.
“Sydney has two first-round picks, picks 10 and 18 (the latter), which is Melbourne’s first-round pick. They will be looking to pay ‘Buddy’ Franklin around $500,000, up from $900,000 previously,” Ralph told Fox Footy.
“They have expiring deals – Josh Kennedy, Callum Sinclair, Sam Reid, Lewis Taylor, Ben Ronke, Sam Naismith – they have a little bit of cap space.
“But Martin owes $2.6 million over the next two years, he wouldn’t take less, the Richmond Foot Club wouldn’t pay him anywhere else. And so, if – and it’s a huge if – the Swans gave up two first rounds, Richmond would have three first rounds and a second round from North Melbourne, they could start rebuilding again.
There would be a sense of déjà vu if Martin ended up at the Swans, given that club’s incredible record of attracting the league’s biggest stars.
Indeed, the 2017 Brownlow Medalist would follow in the footsteps of Tony Lockett, Barry Hall and Lance Franklin as the star attractions seduced by the siren song of Harbor City.
But, of course, if Martin wanted to head north, his passage would be made easier by the fact that there are two teams to choose from in Sydney these days.
If the Premier’s three-time champion ends up in Sydney’s Greater West, it would be a case of the Giants coming full circle given they withdrew their interest in signing him at the end of 2013 after he visited their facilities with manager Ralph Carr.
To see Martin in anthracite and orange nearly a decade later would be a remarkable story and a big hit for GWS.
What’s more, the Giants still owe local rivals Sydney after the Swans looked them to the death for the signing of Franklin in late 2013.
For all intents and purposes, Franklin seemed destined to move from Hawthorn to the Giants ahead of the 2014 season, but stunned everyone, including AFL power brokers, when he joined Sydney instead on a huge deal. nine years (which expires this year).
The league was so enraged, especially then-chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, by Franklin blinding them and snubbing their expansion baby in western Sydney that they slapped the Swans with a two-year trade ban .
Officially, the ban was tied to the controversial cost-of-living allowance, but many football industry observers saw it as retribution for Sydney’s bold recruitment of Franklin and Kurt Tippett.
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But Jon Ralph thinks the Giants would have an even harder time accommodating Martin than the Swans.
“GWS is recorded through his football boss Jason McCartney saying, ‘If Dustin is interested, so are we,'” Ralph said.
“(But) They already need to cut someone under their cap.
“They already have so many elite midfielders in there – Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Jacob Hopper, (Tim) Taranto, Tom Green, Tanner Bruhn – now you can do the BigFooty style trades, but again, the salary cap is even bigger problem there.
However, foxfooty.com.aureported Wednesday that Victorian clubs, including Richmond, are circling Taranto, who is out of contract this year and has postponed talks with the Giants.
This could definitely be a starting point for GWS should they seriously pursue a Martin trade.
But unlike Lockett (29), Franklin (27) and Hall (25), Martin (31) will be in his thirties if he starts a new chapter in the NSW capital.
Seeing him leave the AFL’s Victorian bowl wouldn’t be so surprising. He very well could have reached a stage where the spotlight became too much for him.
This year, in particular, has been extremely difficult for the living Richmond legend.
He had to deal with the death of his father, whom Martin was very close to, and it was an even more difficult situation for Martin given that his father lived in New Zealand.
After Martin played in the Tigers’ season opener against Carlton, he took personal time off from the club and serious question marks began to hang over his career.
He has spent much of that time in Sydney, a city he has come to love, and the main reason speculation links him to the Swans or Giants for next year.
In the end, he took what amounted to a six-week break from football and returned for Richmond’s Round 8 win over Collingwood, racking up 23 touches and two more goals.
His form since returning hasn’t been too bad, but has been a few levels below his absolute best, which is understandable considering his best footy was one of the best footy a player has ever produced.
However, frustratingly for him, he suffered a hamstring injury in the first half against the West Coast at the weekend when he looked to potentially return to those dizzying heights of yesteryear with 17 eliminations and one goal already to go. her name.
Of course, there’s also the very real prospect that Martin could stay with Richmond and see out his seven-year contract.
The Tigers may be seventh on the scale heading into Round 17, but at their best this year, they still look like a team that could go deep into the Finals, and maybe even pinch a fourth flag in six years.
It could be argued that another premiership this year could actually serve as the perfect swan song (pardon the pun) to Martin’s career in Richmond and give him the impetus to start a new chapter up north of the Murray.
But on the other hand, with Shai Bolton, Liam Baker, Noah Balta, Daniel Rioli, Jack Graham, Josh Gibcus, Jack Ross, Hugo Ralphsmith, Maurice Rioli Jr and Judson Clarke all on the Richmond roster and aged 25 or less, Martin could see the potential for more success at Punt Road in the future, even if the Tigers fall short this year.
The 268 player certainly has a lot of thinking to do.