Adam Cerra has nominated Carlton as his preferred destination during the upcoming AFL trade period.
The Blues will have to strike an agreement with Fremantle for the out-of-contract midfielder, with pick six in this year’s national draft set to be the central component in the deal.
The Dockers will likely chase a second selection, possibly in the second round, in exchange for a player they took at pick five in 2017 and developed over the past four seasons.
Cerra finished third in Fremantle’s best-and-fairest in 2020 and is expected to feature prominently again at this year’s Doig Medal count.
The 21-year-old is originally from Victoria and last month requested a trade to his home state for family reasons.
Cerra knocked back a four-year contract offer from Fremantle worth about $750,000 a season and is expected to sign a long-term deal at Carlton, where he will join gun pair Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh in a strong midfield unit.
Cerra’s decision follows last week’s appointment of Michael Voss as the Blues’ new coach after an external review of the football department led to David Teague’s sacking.
Premiers Melbourne had also been keen to land Cerra but were unwilling to part with emerging ruck-forward Luke Jackson, who is originally from Western Australia, as part of a deal.
Jackson starred in the Demons’ drought-breaking grand final triumph and has formed a strong partnership with captain Max Gawn.
The trade period opens on Monday, with rebuilding Adelaide set to be active as they attempt to do a deal with Sydney for skilful young star Jordan Dawson.
Contracted Gold Coast pair Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius are also still on Adelaide’s radar.
But the Crows have just about given up hope of trading for the No.1 draft pick in pursuit of red-hot South Australian talent Jason Horne-Francis.
Wooden spooners North Melbourne hold the first selection at November’s national draft, followed in order by GWS, Gold Coast and Adelaide.
Horne-Francis is rated alongside father-son prospects Nick Daicos (Collingwood) and Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs) as the best young players in the country and underlined his potential in last week’s SANFL preliminary final.
The 18-year-old kicked 3.3 from 24 disposals against Glenelg and appears ready set to slot straight into an AFL club’s midfield next season.
But that is unlikely to be Adelaide, who don’t expect to be able to prise the top pick out of North Melbourne’s hands.
“We’ve had conversations with every club, but certainly North Melbourne,” Crows list manager Justin Reid told Trade Radio on Wednesday.
“We saw what Jason did last Friday night in that prelim for the Panthers … he’s a quality individual and I wouldn’t have thought North Melbourne are moving too much on their pick one.”
Reid played a straight bat to questions about contracted Essendon defender Aaron Francis, who took mental health leave mid-season and spent time at home with family in South Australia.
Reid said contracted midfielder Matt Crouch “is part of our plans going forward” despite the 26-year-old being talked about as possible trade bait.