Can Dons win back Joe Daniher’s heart?
ESSENDON blocked Joe Daniher's trade request in the firm belief the star spearhead will fall back in love with the club next year.
The Bombers held on to Daniher against his will and remain confident he will fire for them next season, despite his attempts to join Sydney Swans.
But the Swans are certain to try to poach Daniher for nothing under free agency rules in 12 months when the 25-year-old's contract expires.
Essendon said the best offer it received from Sydney was pick nine (which it could have gained for Tom Papley from Carlton) and a future-first round pick.
But Essendon list chief Adrian Dodoro maintained a strong stance, adamant the club would only approve the trade if the Swans handed over a star player such as Luke Parker, Nick Blakey or Tom McCartin.
Dodoro said he spoke to Daniher and was confident the athletic forward would return to his best form after two years ruined by groin problems.
"Obviously he (Daniher) is a little bit disappointed but, as you know with Joe, he's a resilient young man," Dodoro said.
"Knowing him and his character, he will come out of this a better, stronger person.
"We absolutely love him and we think he will have a great year next year."
In a strong finish to the trade period, Essendon also held on to speedster Orazio Fantasia and secured Brisbane Lions' long-kicking wingman Tom Cutler and Carlton back-up ruckman Andrew Phillips cheaply.
Dodoro said the club weren't interested in trading Daniher for draft picks without an established star from Sydney because the club "didn't want to go backwards" in 2020.
He said Daniher's groins were recovering well from intrusive surgery.
"Our medical team is really optimistic and he is up and running at the moment," Dodoro said.
"The operation was successful and everyone's really optimistic that he has turned the corner and he is going to have a full preseason.
"Joey is a free agent next year and we are going to fight like hell to retain him if we are in this position in 12 months' time."
Sydney Swans' list chief Charlie Gardiner said he expected the club to keep in close contact with Daniher throughout next season.
Gardiner said the Swans were never confident of getting the deal done on Thursday night.
"We were open to exploring a number of options. In the end it was made pretty clear to us that pick No.5 and No.9, or two first-round picks, wasn't going to be enough," Gardiner said.
"They're well within their rights to demand a player, and we weren't able to involve a player that would satisfy them. We weren't prepared to deal with any of the players Essendon raised.
"We'll revisit it in 12 months' time and see how we go."
Daniher has played only 11 games in the past two seasons and wanted to make the move up north, in part, to get out of the football spotlight in Melbourne.
But the club is determined to "provide the environment" at Tullamarine that will help Daniher flourish next season.
Daniher's manager Nigel Carmody from TLA said his client would prepare for next season as best as he could.
"He knew full well that could have been the outcome," Carmody said.
"He gets back to work and hopefully we see the best of him next year and then we address it and see what happens from there.
"I think we see the way he plays his footy that he does have that bubbly personality and perspective and he went into the process fully aware of what could have unfolded.
"Hopefully we are going to see the best of him back in 2020."