Losing Joe Daniher will hurt the Bombers, but forcing the former All-Australian to stay at the club for the 2020 season would not be in the best interests of Daniher or Essendon.
Daniher is contracted until the end of next season and will become a restricted free agent at the end of 2020 should Essendon refuse to trade the forward.
As a restricted free agent, any offer made by the Swans can be matched by the Bombers or the club could let Daniher walk and receive a compensation pick in return.
List manager Adrian Dodoro’s comments signal the Bombers will try to change Daniher’s mind over the course of next season.
“It is our intention to keep Joe. All-Australian centre half forward, best and fairest winner at our club coming into the peak at our club,” Dodoro said on Monday.
“We’ve expressed to him and his team that we will do everything possible to keep him.”
While Essendon fans understand how crucial Daniher is to the club’s hopes of taking the next step into premiership contention, fielding a player each week who ultimately does not want to play for the club is misguided.
As we saw recently with the Tim Kelly trade, rarely will players change their mind after making a formal trade request.
Granted, the Kelly case is different with the family situation of the now-former Cat making his demand for a trade unwavering.
However, Daniher’s personal issues are unlikely to be solved over the course of the 2020 season.
According to reports, Daniher needs a change in lifestyle outside the Melbourne footy bubble.
While playing more consistently would no doubt help Daniher’s wellbeing, there appears to be no seismic cultural shifts at the Bombers to suggest the 200-centimetre forward will become rejuvenated over the course of next season.
One hope for the Bombers is that recently signed strength and conditioning coach Sean Murphy may potentially allow Daniher and other Bombers to spend more time on the park next season.
After years of struggling with injuries, Daniher and Essendon may be able to finally put it all together with more consistent game time.
However, Daniher has made it clear to the club that their handling of his persistent groin issues are not the reason for his desire to move away from the club.
While knowing Daniher’s true motives is difficult, the 25-year-old will not play at his best while still maintaining much of the same Melbourne lifestyle which has driven him to request a move.
Players – especially father-son fan favourites – do not make trade requests without trying their utmost to make their current situation work.
Similarly to Tim Kelly, Daniher has made his decision.
However, his inconsistent form and injury issues combined with his ultimate desire to be away from the club, Daniher will not be able to play at his peak next season, unlike Kelly’s time with the Cats.
Trading Daniher will also be Essendon’s best chance to acquire a slew of draft selections.
With recent years of trade activity bringing in the likes of Devon Smith, Dylan Shiel, Adam Saad and Jake Stringer, Essendon have sacrificed a significant chunk of their future for the present.
Holes are clearly still present in the Bombers’ list and a chance to rejuvenate their team slightly by trading Daniher for valuable first-round picks could be a blessing in disguise for the club.
In key position areas, the Bombers have the likes of Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Shaun McKernan and Mitch Brown in the side. All of which are in the second half of their career.
In the midfield, the Bombers are younger yet, and are limited in their depth with the likes of Kyle Langford and Dylan Clarke proving to be useful, albeit limited players.
A chance to draft a key position player as well as adding more elite midfield depth through the draft could extend what the club hopes to be a fast-approaching premiership window.
Of course, these high-value draft assets could be used to recruit more proven senior talent and boost Essendon’s midfield to the elite level it has signs of becoming.
If the Bombers decide to go down this path, the club has a shorter premiership window and is banking on the performances of the likes of McKernan and Hooker in their quest to win the clubs first final in 15 years.
Given Daniher’s absence from the side in recent years, the Bombers have already experienced life without Joe.
As Bombers fans would know, in the last two years the team’s biggest weakness is its all-important midfield.
In 2019, Essendon ranked 15th in the league for inside 50’s, opponent kicks and opponent disposals per game as their midfield simply couldn’t get their hands on the ball and get it going forward often enough.
Defensively, in particular, the Bombers can at times look undersized and out-muscled inside.
Hence, rumours have circled that the club was interested in Port Adelaide bull Sam Powell-Pepper to add some much-needed grunt to a midfield with still a fair amount of untapped potential.
While Dodoro and Essendon are notorious for their trade period stubbornness, trading Daniher and bolstering other areas will be more helpful to the long term success of the team instead of hanging on to the want-away forward for one extra inconsistent season.