Western Bulldog defender Jason Johannisen puts contract negotiations on hold until the end of the season.
Johannisen, 24, has informed the Western Bulldogs that any contract negotiations will need to wait until the end of the 2017 season.
In a worrying sign for the Bulldogs, Johannisen has quickly become one of the best rebounding defenders in the competition and was the Norm Smith medallist in the 2016 Grand Final against the Sydney Swans.
The East Fremantle product is believed to have a desire to return to Western Australia one day and putting his contract negotiations on hold, opens the door for the Fremantle Docker or the West Coast Eagles to make a player for the 24 year old.
But Johanniesen services will not come cheap, as the South African born defender is believed to be seeking $700,000+ per season, with a price tag like that, it puts Fremantle in the driving seat as they have money to spend heading into the 2018 season.
It is believed the Dockers are willing to offer the 2016 Norm Smith Medalist upwards of $800,000 per season, a figure that the Bulldogs would find tough to match and maintain their current list.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is concerned that the club and Johannisen could not come to a agreement straight away, but believes the Bulldogs have a good chance of retaining his services.
“I think the simple way to look at it is he has backed himself to have a great year and leverage a contract for the future,” Beveridge said.
“Although he probably takes on a little bit of risk in doing that, all that I can do and we can do is just support him in that decision.
“It appears the lure of his home State has got a little something to do with it.
“But, he wants to be a Bulldogs player and that’s encouraging.
“We’ll just work with him to make sure his year is as productive as it can be.”
It is understood the Fremantle Dockers have plenty of room in their Salary Cap and will be keeping close tabs on Johannisen throughout the 2017 season, but coach Ross Lyon has stated that getting a player of Johannisen ability will require a lot of prior planning and would be a massive coup for the club.
Johanissen was recruited by the Western Bulldogs in the 2011 Rookie Draft, with pick #39, and made his debut in Round 19 of the 2012 AFL season, against North Melbourne at Docklands Stadium.