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Gun Bomber wants to head home, Port in box seat

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EXCITING Essendon forward Orazio Fantasia has indicated a desire to return home to South Australia, with Port Adelaide believed to be his preference in that scenario.

Both the Power and Crows are aware of Fantasia's wish, but the Norwood product's longstanding relationship with Nathan Bassett has Port Adelaide in the box seat if Essendon agrees to trade him in 2019.

The Bombers are understood to have long known Fantasia would request a trade home at some stage in his career, but wouldn't give the young star up without a fight.

 

The biggest stumbling block is that Fantasia signed a two-year contract extension in August last year to remain at Tullamarine until the end of 2021.

That contract will take him through to free agency, where the 23-year-old would be able to walk to the team of his choice.

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However, clubs are increasingly preferring to trade players in Fantasia's situation before they reach free agency, to ensure they receive maximum compensation.

Essendon doesn't have a first-round pick in this year's draft – using it as part of the Dylan Shiel deal – and hasn't selected there since 2016, but that would be the minimum requirement to prise Fantasia from the Bombers.

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Fantasia played in Norwood's 2013 SANFL senior premiership team, coached by Bassett, who also mentored him in his junior days.

Bassett joined Essendon as an assistant coach soon after that Grand Final triumph, about a month before they drafted Fantasia with the No.55 selection.

"We have a really strong relationship," Fantasia said of Bassett at the time.

"Working with 'Bass' … has taught me a lot as both a player and as a person. I think I have grown and matured under him, and it is going to be good to work under him again."

Bassett spent two years at the Bombers before crossing to the Power after the 2015 season, and is currently the club's forwards coach.

Fantasia, whose girlfriend and immediate family live in Adelaide, has kicked 105 goals in 69 matches for Essendon and become an integral part of its attack.

He enjoyed a breakout season in 2016, booting 29 goals, then followed up with 39 the next year, but a series of injuries and illness have limited his appearances this season and last.

Fantasia has barely been out of the spotlight this year, most prominently for the way his surname is pronounced and being the player Hawks captain Ben Stratton pinched relentlessly.