Award-winning football journalist Sam McClure has made a bombshell claim about Dustin Martin's future at Tigerland, stating the odds of the 31-year-old departing at the season's end are increasing.
Martin's last 12 months have been turbulent; a severe kidney injury ended his 2021 season before his father, Shane, passed away during the offseason, leading to the Brownlow Medallist's decision to take time away from the game early this year as he reportedly pondered retirement.
The superstar midfielder-forward returned to action in Round 8 against Collingwood and has played in all but one game since. However, Martin succumbed to a hamstring strain in the third quarter of Richmond's win over the West Coast Eagles last Sunday and has been ruled out of this weekend's clash with the Gold Coast Suns.
Martin is not set to hit unrestricted free agency until the conclusion of the 2024 season, however, McClure believes a departure could be on the cards this year.
Speaking on 3AW's Sportsday, McClure announced the chances of Martin remaining in Tigers colours beyond 2022 are diminishing.
"I don't know that part (which club he would go to). I'd be guessing.
"Sydney keep getting mentioned. He's had a love of Sydney, Ralph Carr his manager has been on the record saying that. So if he wanted to go to Sydney, Sydney would move heaven and earth to make it happen.
"Damien Hardwick was on the record not long ago saying if he wanted to leave, he would leave with my blessing."
Despite Hardwick's apparent non-resistance to a potential Martin departure, Richmond would surely drive a hard trade bargain for any team looking to acquire the star's services.
It is understood Martin is owed somewhere in the range of $2.6 million across the next two seasons, with McClure urging the Swans to bite the bullet.
"You extend Dustin's contract, that's the easy way to do it," McClure said.
"You pay him the $1.3 million for two years, you add two years out the back on not much money, and you get it done.
"A four-year deal, give him the extra two. Say [to him] you're probably gonna play at full forward. You conduct a situation where Dustin Martin and Lance Franklin are playing in the same forward line for a year - memberships sell themselves."
With Martin ruled out of this weekend's bout, the reasonable expectation is he will also sit out the game against North Melbourne on Saturday week before ideally suiting up for the Tigers' blockbuster clash with Fremantle in Round 19.