Collingwood has reportedly emerged as the frontrunner to secure the services of Western Bulldogs midfielder Bailey Smith.

Smith - who is currently recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury he sustained during the off-season - has been listed as one of the big names in the AFL on the move.

With reports indicating that Collingwood, Hawthorn and Geelong were the leading clubs to land the 23-year-oldHerald Sun's Sam Landsberger believes one of them is ahead of the others.

“I think Collingwood has emerged as the clear frontrunner to secure Bailey Smith's services next year,” Landsberger told Fox Footy's Midweek Tackle.

“We've all been thinking Geelong for probably 12 months, they share that sponsorship with Cotton On, we know Hawthorn would love him in their midfield as well.

“But I think it's the Magpies who lead the race for Bailey, who we all accept has one foot out the door at Whitten Oval.

“The thought has been that the lifestyle down at Geelong is big for him - he's a marquee man, he loves the big smoke. You know he spent the off-season in New York with all the Collingwood boys? Lots of happy snaps, he's business partners with Nick and Josh Daicos.

“I can tell you tonight that Collingwood has told their players, no more photos with Bailey. This is getting out of hand. They sent the message out to players, no more publicity with Bailey Smith.”

Smith comes out of contract at the cessation of the season and will be highly sought after, with the Pies admitting to their aggressive plans to regenerate in the coming years.

The Bulldogs personality has already fostered strong relationships with Collingwood players, including the Daicos brothers (Josh and Nick) through overseas trips, training camps and business Barry's Drink.

However, Collingwood doesn't have a 2024 first-round selection due to the Lachie Shultz trade.

It's believed that, if the Bulldogs were to part ways with Smith, a pick well within the top 10 and a second round could be enough.

Despite all the external noise, Pies coach Craig McRae has denied claims that his players were encouraged to avoid publicity with Smith.

"I'm not privy to that (information)," McRae told reporters on Thursday.

"There's no one in the building that has suggested that's true.

"There's no reason to think that we would would say [not to post with Smith] to our players."