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Dangerfield, Part Two? Martin's playing future set to dominate 2017

Football

Speculation over Dustin Martin’s future has already become an unwanted distraction for Richmond amid reports the marquee midfielder has put AFL contract talks on hold and calls for the Adelaide Crows to make a major play for the budding superstar.

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Martin is out of contract at the end of the 2017 season when he will be a restricted free agent, which means Richmond can match any offer put to the bullocking midfielder by rival clubs.

The Crows have been linked to the trouble-prone star, who has a chequered off-field history, with two former champions-turned-media-commentators last night demanding they aggressively pursue free agency options as the club still searches for someone to fill the yawning gap left by the departure of Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield.

Ralph Carr, Martin’s manager, won’t be afraid to test the club’s limits as he seeks the best deal for his 25-year-old client.

Martin famously toured Greater Western Sydney’s facilities during tense contract negotiations in 2013 before signing a new deal to stay at Punt Road.

The club declined to comment on the status of Martin’s contract negotiations yesterday, however AFL.com.au reported last night that Carr had met with Tiger officials Neil Balme and Dan Richardson to discuss the star midfielder’s future.

Carr told the website after the meeting there was “nothing to report at this point [but] stay tuned”.

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Dustin Martin receives advice from Port’s Brad Ebert. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

With the departure of star veteran Brett Deledio for GWS, the Tigers can ill afford to lose Martin, who took his game to a new level last year to claim his first Jack Dyer Medal.

Richmond are widely seen to be entering a make-or-break season for coach Damien Hardwick after last year’s disappointing 13th-placed finish that followed three successive elimination final defeats.

Martin’s situation is reminiscent of Alex Rance’s protracted negotiations during the 2015 season when Hardwick was frustrated by continued media speculation over the contract impasse with the star defender.

Ultimately Rance signed a new four-year deal to stay at Punt Road.

-AAP

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