Greater Western Sydney midfielder Jacob Hopper is the subject of intense interest from rival clubs as the Giants prepare for yet another potential trade period exodus.
AFL.com.au is reporting Geelong, Collingwood, Brisbane and Adelaide are targeting the 20-year-old former number seven draft pick.
Hopper is one of a number of out-of-contract GWS stars attracting interest from elsewhere as the club’s salary cap squeeze threatens to derail their ambitions to build a dynasty.
The Giants are already desperately trying to re-sign Josh Kelly, Devon Smith and as many as 11 others.
While it is thought his preference is to remain at the Giants, AFL.com.au reports he is yet to begin contract talks as he recovers from an injured ankle and finger.
Hopper was drafted in 2015 via the Giants Academy after they matched Gold Coast’s pick seven bid.
He had a debut to remember against Gold Coast last year, collecting 32 disposals and a Rising Star nomination.
He is a prolific ball winner and is equally able playing as an outside midfielder as he is on the inside.
In his 16 games, he has averaged just under nine contested and uncontested possessions per game, 17 disposals, 3.8 tackles and a goal every two games.
A move to Brisbane would shore up their midfield depth and future-proof their squad, particularly given the trio mentioned above are all in their late-20s.
While Gold Coast has not been mentioned as a potential destination for Hopper, it is likely they will still be interested since their 2015 bid, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding Gary Ablett.
Hopper plays in a similar manner to Ablett, oozing class and poise and as such, would be a handy replacement for the 300-game veteran.
Another potential destination for Hopper is North Melbourne. The Roos are desperate for midfield class and could potentially consider Hopper if big-money bids for Josh Kelly and Dustin Martin fall through.
Although he is not the pure outside class they crave, he is still capable and a far more likely option to add to North’s midfield depth.
Like Kelly, one factor in North’s favour is that Hopper barracked for them growing up, but what role sentimentality will play in either decision is anyone’s guess.
As they build towards premiership contention, Hopper’s recruitment would soften the blow of one or more retirements. He would join the likes of Christian Petracca, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver to form the backbone of an exciting midfield to last another decade.
While Hopper would not add too much experience given he has only played 16 games, he has proven quality and already has years of elite coaching at GWS and the GWS Academy.
He will be a vital part of the future of which ever team he chooses to play for in 2018 and beyond.