BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19: Caleb Daniel (left) and Josh Dunkley of the Bulldogs celebrates during the 2017 AFL round 22 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Port Adelaide Power at Mars Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Essendon emerged as an interested suitor for Western bulldogs star Josh Dunkley earlier this week, with reports now suggesting the interest could be mutual.

7 News journalist Tom Browne reported on Monday that the Bombers were pressing for Dunkley’s signature, with the likelihood of a trade now progressing.

Dunkley is believed to be happy at Whitten Oval, with a lucrative offer from the Bombers a factor that could tune to his satisfaction.

“My sources last night indicate that’s genuine interest, perhaps on both sides, and I think there’ll be more to play out there,” Browne reported on Triple M on Thursday.

“That’s a serious prospect, Dunkley getting to the Bombers. I’ll keep monitoring that one very, very closely.

“The mail out of the Bulldogs I got last night is they wouldn’t trade him so I think there’ll be an argy bargy there, which means it’s probably only a 50-50 proposition.

“But there’s definitely some wheels in motion.”

Dunkley’s position with the Bulldogs is a peculiar one, with the gun onballer struggling to cement his pace in midfield after returning from injury.

The Bulldogs star fell back in Luke Beveridge’s engine room ranks at times in 2020 as Tom Liberatore and Bailey Smith impressed, with Dunkley even being played through the ruck.

Western bulldogs great and broad member Luke Darcy was quick to quash any rumours of the kind on Monday, but changed his tune on Thursday.

“My belief would be if you’ve got a player of that quality – I think that system at the Bulldogs will be pretty good for Josh Dunkley’s development,” Darcy said.

“He’s got a two-year contract, he’s been an outstanding midfielder. It would take something pretty special to break that contract, I would have thought.”

The Bombers will have a strong trade hand in the upcoming exchange window, with the club set to gain healthy compensation for the imminent departures of Joe Daniher, Adam Saad and Orazio Fantasia.