Melbourne have responded to a wild trade rumour about superstar midfielder Clayton Oliver.
On Tuesday AFL Media flagged that rival clubs were “weighing up” making a move on the 26-year-old who had a troubled 2023 season.
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Oliver was dogged by a serious hamstring injury this year, ended up in hospital with an infected blister, and only managed 15 games for the year.
He was out of action from Rounds 14 to 19 and was also forced to address ugly drug rumours that spread like wildfire on social media.
Clayton Oliver had a troubled 2023 season. Credit: AFL Photos via Getty Images
To add insult to injury, the perennial ball-magnet only managed a meek six Brownlow votes during the AFL’s best-and-fairest count.
7NEWS can also reveal he had knee surgery after the club’s exit from the finals, an operation he put off at the end of the home and away season.
Oliver told 7NEWS he didn’t navigate his way through the season as well as he could have.
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“It was really frustrating on my behalf, and I probably didn’t handle it the way I should have,” he said.
“But the team of the Melbourne medical staff are unbelievable.”
Melbourne confirmed to 7NEWS that they were aware other clubs were circling Oliver.
But they insisted he was a required player and under a lengthy contract.
There has also been no suggestion Oliver wants to move.
The club is seemingly prepared to lose another midfielder in James Harmes, however, and ruck Brodie Grundy.
Both players are out-of-favour and are preparing for likely trades away from the Demons.
Grundy is expected to join Sydney, his third AFL club in as many seasons, after the Demons’ gamble on pairing the former Collingwood star with captain Max Gawn failed.
Harmes, a 2021 premiership player with 152 games to his name, played just nine matches this season, and while he hasn’t requested a trade “as of yet”, he has been given Melbourne’s blessings to look elsewhere.
James Harmes spent a lot of time in the VFL this season. Credit: AFL Photos via Getty Images
Both Grundy and Harmes finished their respective seasons in the VFL.
“Brodie and I actually became really close at the end of the year and I definitely feel for Brodie,” Harmes said.
“It’s obviously tough just moving clubs, and he’s going to have to do it again.
“But the way he’s handled himself has been incredible.
“But I’m looking forward to him having a really good crack at it next year and hopefully playing some really good footy.”
Harmes wouldn’t be drawn on whether the Demons and coach Simon Goodwin had sold Grundy a pipe dream.
“’Goody’ and the club experimented, and Gawny’s probably the best ruckman still in the league, and Brodie’s not far behind him,” he said.
“I don’t think it was a mistake, Melbourne bringing him to the club, it just didn’t work out.”
Harmes, who is contracted to the Dees for next season, has been linked to Essendon, but said he was “happy to go anywhere”, including interstate, to get back to his best.
“Honestly at the moment it’s all up in the air a bit,” he said at a TAB event.
“I had my exit meeting, it all went really smoothly and Goody and (list manager) Tim Lamb are happy for me to explore my options.
“My manager’s doing that at the moment … if I’m back at Melbourne next year I’m back there, but I’ll just let him deal with all that.
“This year was pretty hard for me personally. I just said to the club I’d be interested in having a fresh start.
“I’ve spoken to a couple of clubs, got a few things over the next few days, so we’ll see what happens.”
Harmes worked closely with new Richmond coach and former Melbourne senior assistant Adem Yze, but they appear unlikely to reunite at Punt Rd.
“I’ve hinted it at him as a little joke,” he said.
“I haven’t caught up with him or chatted with Richmond at all.”
– With AAP
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