WANTAWAY Giant Devon Smith has declared he wants to join Essendon in the upcoming trade period.
Smith informed Greater Western Sydney last week he wanted a trade and is believed to have now informed the expansion club Essendon is his preferred destination.
The 176cm forward was also hotly pursued by Carlton and Collingwood, while St Kilda and North Melbourne also expressed some interest.
The No.14 pick in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, Smith wants to spend more time in the midfield at Essendon than he did at GWS.
Smith's decision to leave GWS was largely motivated by his lack of midfield minutes there.
The Giants' midfield is one of the most star-studded in the competition, boasting the likes of Callan Ward, Dylan Shiel, Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio, Tom Scully, Lachie Whitfield and the emerging Jacob Hopper.
Smith, 24, is likely to enjoy far more opportunities in an Essendon midfield looking to build depth and cover the loss of retired clearance bull Jobe Watson.
Winning Smith's commitment is a significant coup for Bombers, who are expected to announce soon that contracted Western Bulldog Jake Stringer also wants to come to Tullamarine.
The hard work will start for the Dons from there, with trades for Smith and Stringer anything but straight forward.
Rival clubs believe Smith is worth an early second-round pick in the No.18-25 range, with Stringer worth a slightly earlier selection.
The Dons hold picks No.11 and No.28. They are not prepared to swap pick No.11 in a straight swap for Stringer, but might need to consider putting it on the table in some form if they are to secure both players.
In his six seasons with the Giants, Smith played 109 games – only Ward, Scully, Toby Greene, Shiel and Jeremy Cameron have played more – and kicked 100 goals.
Smith finished joint runner-up in GWS's 2014 best and fairest award and sixth in 2015, but knee problems have restricted him to 30 senior games over the past two seasons.
A posterior cruciate ligament injury sidelined him during the Giants' 2017 finals campaign and his manager, Ned Guy of McDonald Sports, told NAB AFL Trade Radio on Wednesday he wanted to join a club with a strong rehabilitation program.