AFL Rd 6 - Melbourne v Gold Coast
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Izak Rankine of the Suns kicks celebrates after kicking his first AFL goal during the round 6 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Gold Coast Suns at GIANTS Stadium on July 11, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

After failing to land GWS small forward Bobby Hill during the most recent off-season and seeing fan favourite Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti depart prior to the bye, Essendon have reportedly placed Suns' goalsneak Izak Rankine in their crosshairs ahead of the 2023 season.

After joining the Carrara club with the 3rd selection of the 2018 National Draft, the South Australian has shown glimpses of greatness throughout his 42-game career, adding consistency to his arsenal throughout his current campaign.

Proving able to split the sticks on 28 occasions throughout the 2019 and 2020 AFL seasons, the 22-year-old has already produced his most robust seasonal tally in 2022, with 18 majors from his first 12 starts.

Along with fellow blue-chip draftees Ben King, Jack Lukosious, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson, Rankine is a vital cog in Gold Coast's continued strive for relevance.

However, unlike these other bright rays, the West Adelaide product remains out of contract at the cessation of this season.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 26: Caleb Graham, Ben King, Izak Rankine, Jack Lukosius and Jez McLennan pose during a Gold Coast Suns AFL media Opportunity on November 26, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Yet, with fellow third-year options in King and Lukosious signing on the dotted line within the past handful of months, Rankine has been strongly linked with extending his stay on the glitter strip.

Still, as reported by 7News' Mitch Cleary, Essendon has also stated their interest in an effort to find another noted avenue to goal.

“Izak Rankine is piecing together his best season (with) negotiations just bubbling along to keep him at the Suns,” Cleary said on Friday night.

“But the Essendon footy club has thrown its hat into the ring, just giving him something to think about as his negotiations push on.”

At the present, Peter Wright (33 goals) remains the only Bomber to have produced a greater output than Rankine in front of gal this year, with just a further for Tullamarine forwards proving able to hit double figures - Nic Martin (15), Archie Perkins (13), Jake Stringer (12) and Alec Waterman (10).

While the goateed Sun's name is said to be on chief Dons recruiter Adrian Dodoro's board, it is not yet known whether another offer for Hill will amount in addition.

Hill last year requested a trade to the Hangar during what petered out to be a relatively quiet trade period, but was held to his word in Sydney's west.

The Western Australian is set to complete his contract at the end of the Giants' 2022 season. Yet, with Hill currently recovering from surgical procedures designed to attack recently discovered testicular cancer, it is not yet known when the fellow 22-year-old will be cleared to return to action.

Essendon is set to host Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on July 17, providing Rankine not only a chance to place his best foot forward but also the ability to kickstart conversations about potentially donning a sash going forward.