Club blindsided by trade bombshell

The Josh Dunkley-Western Bulldogs saga has added another twist just a day after the star midfielder’s trade request became official.

Dunkley endured a nightmare 2020 season with the Bulldogs as his playing time in the midfield dwindled.

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His percentage of centre bounces attended dropped from 63 per cent in 2019 all the way down to just 36 per cent this season as the Bulldogs instead favoured Bayley Smith and Tony Liberatore.

Dunkley’s manager Liam Pickering confirmed a trade request had been delivered to the Bulldogs with the star wanting to become a member of the Bombers.

Still under contract until the end of the 2022 season, the Bulldogs held a hard line stance surrounding the star departing the club. But that stance has softened since his request became official.

A club statement reiterated that stance, but left the door open for the club to improve the playing list through the Trade Period and AFL Draft.

“Josh is a required player at the Bulldogs, who has two years remaining on a contract which was extended by three years in June 2019,” the statement read.

“Accordingly, the Bulldogs remain committed to improving our playing list through the Trade Period and the National Draft, to build on back-to-back seasons of playing in the AFL Finals.”

Bevo and Dunks.Source:Getty Images

On Friday, Western Bulldogs list manager Sam Power fronted AFL Trade Radio and said the trade request caught the club off guard but said the priority is to keep him around.

“He’s part of our leadership group and someone we planned to be an integral part (of our club) going forward. We’d extended (his contract) by three years halfway through the 2019 season, and that obviously demonstrated how he felt about the club and what we felt about him going forward,” Power said.

“Our priority is definitely to keep him, he’s obviously come out yesterday, through Liam (Pickering, Dunkley’s manager), and said his preference is to go to Essendon, so we have to now be open to different situations. We’ll work through that with Essendon, but our preference and our position hasn’t changed in Josh’s importance to the club and us wanting him to remain a Western Bulldogs player.”

Power confirmed coach Luke Beveridge had held discussions with Dunkley regarding giving him more midfield time, an offer the Bombers have given him along with a reported lucrative four-year contract worth approximately $650,000-700,000 a season.

Rumours have began to float the Bulldogs could turn their attention to Collingwood midfielder Adam Treloar, a player the Pies are reportedly looking to offload with reports indicating they’ll even eat some of his salary to help facilitate a move.

There’s still plenty to play out ahead of the Trade Period coming to a close on November 12, but with how things are going we could be seeing Dunkley as a Bomber sooner rather than later.

Liam Pickering seems too shrewd to publicly confirm Josh Dunkley wants out without having a reasonable degree of confidence about a deal getting done. Bulldogs gradually publicly softening too after Ameet Bains’ initial blanket refusal.

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