Fremantle footy boss Peter Bell says there is a “very strong possibility” Lachie Schultz remains in the west in 2024, after the forward asked for a trade to Victoria for family reasons.
The 25-year-old surprised the footy world when his request of a move to Collingwood became public on Monday evening.
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Schultz is contracted for next season, having triggered a one-year extension during the 2023 campaign, but has “layered” reasons for wanting to return east according to Bell.
“We weren’t expecting the request from Lachie, that’s fair to say,” he told 6PR on Monday night.
“We’re aware of some circumstances – as we are with all our players – that are in the background. And some circumstances have arisen where Lachie’s keen to explore a return home to Victoria.
“Through those discussions we of course have reminded Lachie that you know, while we understand those circumstances, the fact that he’s a contracted player and much loved player and a valued player may mean that there’s every possibility that he plays for us next year and sees that his contract at least.”
While Bell did not explain the exact scenario for privacy reasons he explained Schultz’s reasons were “a bit more layered than the former (just wanting to be closer to family)”.
“But it’s not really my or the club’s position go into that level of detail – we understand the circumstances but at the same time, we have to do what’s right for the club.
“And Lachie and I discussed that today, and I’m sure he discussed that with David Walls and via his management as well. And he was understanding of that. So we’ll listen but at all times we’ll make the decision that’s in the best interest of the club.”
Schultz finished equal-sixth in the Dockers’ best and fairest this year, kicking 33 goals – the second-most at the club – marking a continued impressive rise from his 2020 delisting and then move to the rookie list.
“He’s got the energy, he’s a forward 50 harassment player that every club is looking for,” Fox Footy analyst David King said on Trading Day.
“He’s an experienced campaigner, he hits the scoreboard and when he does, he becomes a multiple goal scorer more often that not.
“They are hard to find.”
Asked what the Dockers valued Schultz at, Bell said “that’s not really for me to put on the public record”, though asked whether he would take Nick Daicos in return he jokingly quipped “that’d be nice”.
Bell also did not criticise Schultz for picking a specific club rather than saying he would be happy to play for any Victorian side, explaining that’s just the reality of modern trading, with players investigating where they could fit into an opposition team before lodging their move request.
“We understand how the player movement works these days and that is that players can request a trade to a particular club,” Bell said.
“We’ll listen to what Collingwood have to say, and then we’ll make a decision based on those conversations around again what’s best for Fremantle.
“And within that, of course, as I said before, there’s a really strong possibility that a deal isn’t able to be struck and that Lachie will play for us in 2024.”
Originally published as Fremantle keen to keep forward as ‘layered’ reason for trade request revealed