Swans in battle to retain young talent

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Breakout year: Sydney’s Zak Jones (centre) will be a highly sought after player if he decides to exercise his options in 2017. (Photo credit: Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

One of the most consistent teams of the modern era faces a tough task to keep hold of some talented young players ahead of the 2017 Free Agency and Trade Periods.

2017 is set to see some big names hit the AFL’s Free Agency, with star midfielders Nathan Fyfe, Tom Rockliff and Dustin Martin all players that will naturally generate huge interest from rival clubs as restricted free agents.

Sydney swingman Sam Reid, also a restricted free agent, is another player firming as a potential target for clubs following this season, with the Swans desperate to keep the young tall at the Sydney Cricket Ground beyond this year.

Reid, 25, who missed the whole of last season through injury, has made a promising return to AFL level this year, amongst the ruins of a Swans campaign that sees them sitting at 1-6 following their first victory of the year last weekend.

Despite his side’s unflattering start to 2017, Reid has declared his intent to stay at the Swans rather than explore his options interstate, with clubs from his home state of Victoria likely to express the most interest and brother Ben playing at Collingwood.

The Swans, who will look to re-sign Reid, have the ability to match any rival offer under the AFL’s restricted free agent rules.

A well-documented salary cap squeeze, however, will prove to be the main obstacle for both Reid and the club if he desires to stay, after acquiring Kurt Tippett and Lance Franklin on large contracts over the last five years. With both players taking up a large percentage of the money the Swans can offer players.

This squeeze could lure Reid away from the Swans if another club is willing to offer him more than what the Swans are able to, unless Reid is happy to accept a smaller deal at the Swans, which is unlikely for a 25 year-old sure to search for a deal that will secure his future financially.

Reid isn’t the only young star at the Swans who would be smart to test their value in the AFL market this year, with hard-nosed speedster Zak Jones also having a breakout season off of half-back and into the midfield.

Jones, 22, who is out of contract following this season, will also attract interest from other potential suitors, such as Richmond who are looking for more midfield depth.

The young Swan could also be tempted by a move home to Victoria, with brother Nathan Jones co-captain at Melbourne and many clubs seeing the youngster as an attractive target.

Whilst the Swans have the signatures of future stars Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills tied up, the signings of Reid and Jones would be just as important for a Swans team that has already lost three players from last year’s grand final side.

Ex-Swans Toby Nankervis (Richmond) and Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn) have been valuable contributors for their new sides thus far in 2017, and the Swans would be loathed to see more required players walk out the door at the end of this year.

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