JORDAN De Goey finished the 2018 season as the AFL's next big thing.
But in the two years since, he has proven he's not.
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They were heady days for Collingwood in late 2018, when de Goey led it through four finals with 12 goals, including an explosive, three-goal performance in the Grand Final against West Coast and four the previous week in a preliminary final against Richmond.
De Goey booted 48 goals in 2018, and started the following year similarly, with 14 goals coming in his first five matches. But only 20 more were kicked from 12 matches, with a serious hamstring strain ending his year. In 2020, a finger injury restricted him to just 10 matches and 14 goals.
Like many of his teammates, he was unable to have an impact in Saturday night's semi-final against Geelong at the Gabba, which ended his team's season and left him as a major focus of the looming AFL player movement period, given he has been unable to yet reach terms to extend his six years as a Magpie.
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De Goey's father, Roger, has been assigned negotiation duties for his 24-year-old son. When it was known De Goey was exploring all options pertaining to his off-field management, it set off a scramble amongst player managers vying for his signature.
Collingwood has nothing against Roger De Goey, but football clubs are organisations which would prefer not to have to negotiate with a family member of a wanted player.
Coach Nathan Buckley, forever up-front publicly, revealed that the dollars required for De Goey to stay were not yet settled.
"We don't live in a vacuum, we're aware of the conversations that take place," Buckley said after the Pies' dreadful loss to the Cats.
"Jordy loves the club and he wants to be here. Elements of people on his side would like to see him remunerated as well as he possibly could, and we want him to be rewarded appropriately as well.
"That's what it comes down to. There still needs to be a monetary outcome that is satisfactory for both parties."
De Goey was offered a $5 million deal by North Melbourne during that club's recent, desperate and unsuccessful series of bids to attract a big name. But neither North Melbourne or that level of money are options for De Goey as he determines his football home for 2021 and beyond.
Carlton is interested, but not at any price. Wherever De Goey plays next year, his own form and the COVID-19 inflicted carnage on clubs' accounts means his salary may even be less than the purported $800,000 or thereabouts that he has been on this year.
Even factoring in the blistering September 2018 heroics, De Goey only finished eighth in that season's Magpies' best-and-fairest award, the only time he has managed a top-10 placing in that count in the six seasons he been in the AFL.
De Goey can still be the next big thing. But he's going to have to prove himself all over again, and no club – including his own, which desperately wants him to stay – is going to be paying him silly money on a hope of stardom.