AFL Rd 3 - Gold Coast v Adelaide
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Ben King of the Suns celebrates a goal with team mates during the round 3 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium on June 21, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Essendon General Manager of Football Josh Mahoney has explained that the Bombers will "look at all the different options" in regards to the possible acquisition of Gold Coast key forward Ben King.

Despite having a year to run on his contract with the Carrara club, and the persistent noise that the 21-year-old is likely to join his twin brother Max at St Kilda, King's name reportedly remains on the Dons' shopping list.

When quizzed by SEN about their interest in the 202cm talent, Mahoney played a predictably straight bat.

“There’s all options around that,” the Port Adelaide premiership player said on Friday.

“One option is looking at currently what’s on our list and we have some young and developing talls that we think can play a role as well, so we don’t want to all of a sudden think we have to go get someone.

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“But you also look at all the different options outside [of the club] so you never want to close any opportunity, you make sure you have the flexibility with your draft hand and with trades regardless of what may come up.

“It’s about keeping an open mind with that.”

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 16: Ben King handballs during a Gold Coast Suns AFL training session at Metricon Stadium on July 16, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

While King's wares were on display across his 2021 campaign that saw him slot 47 goals, the forward's manager, Robbie D'Orazio, labelled the persistent rumour-mongering surrounding his client's future as "disrespectful".

“He has been continuously linked to rivals and it’s disrespectful that it has been spoken about when all he’s trying to do is win at Gold Coast,” D‘Orazio told The Herald Sun earlier this week.

“He is a 21-year-old trying to learn his craft and he’s had to put up with all the speculation for the past three years, literally since draft night.

“I think it’s disrespectful to the Suns as well and I know for a fact Ben doesn’t like or want the attention.

“The last conversation I had with him when we caught up was how excited he was about the list and group and how he had full faith in the coaching department and club.”

Ben & Max King Media Opportunity In Melbourne
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20: Max King of the Saints and Ben King of the Suns handball to each other whilst jogging a lap during a joint media opportunity at Moorabbin West Cricket Club on April 20, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Though Mahoney's statements could hardly be construed as meeting D'Orazio's maligning markers, with these latest statements now on record, the market for King's services beyond 2022 should now be considered a three horse race.

Before signing off in his conversation with AFL Trade Radio’s Trade Afternoons, Mahoney also added that the Bombers could well be in a place to offer former Saint Luke Dunstan a lifeline next season.

Despite enjoying a return to Brett Ratten's senior side across the back half of 2021, Dunstan, 26, was told by St Kilda that his services were no longer required after eight seasons and 116 games in a red, white and black jumper.

Though his time at Linton Street is now over, Dunstan did catch the umpires attention across his 12 appearances this year and netted 11 Brownlow votes in the process.

Having last month explained that a move to the Bombers was high on his agenda for 2022, Dunstan's future still lies in Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro's hands according to Mahoney.

“It’s a conversation Adrian has had with Luke and that is an option,” he said.

“This period, we’re sitting here and waiting for opportunities. We’re not really going into it with a targeted approach but we’ll see what falls out.

“It’ll be interesting with the salary cap, we’re in a really strong position with the salary cap so it gives us great flexibility in terms of whatever players become available.”

Although the AFL trade period will not officially commence until Monday, the Tullamarine-based club have already added to their stocks by acquiring unrestricted free-agent Jake Kelly from Adelaide

The 26-year-old defender will the don the red sash next season after 100 games as a Crow across a seven season stint.