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Brad Crouch says he is hopeful Adelaide decide against matching St Kilda's offer for him as the Crows keep the door ajar for the midfielder to remain at the club next year.
The AFL's trade period opens officially on Wednesday morning and Adelaide's window to match St Kilda's offer for the Crows' 2019 best and fairest will shut at 5pm.
The Crows can accept a second-round compensation pick (currently No. 23) for Crouch, 26, after St Kilda's offer for him landed in the AFL's third band of compensation. Adelaide had been hoping the Saints' offer would land in the first band, netting the Crows pick No. 2.
Adelaide have until the close of business on Wednesday to formally notify the AFL of whether they will match St Kilda's offer for the restricted free agent – which sources indicated was between four and five years – or whether they will accept the compensation pick and allow Crouch free passage to Moorabbin.
Should the Crows match the offer for Crouch, St Kilda will be forced to trade for the onballer if they want to acquire him. The Saints have declared their unwillingness to part with their 2020 first-round draft pick (currently selection No. 17) for Crouch, setting the scene for protracted negotiations should Adelaide match the offer.
Brad Crouch.Credit:Getty Images
St Kilda have indicated they could walk away from Crouch altogether, theoretically opening the door for them to chase another player in the trade period.
Arriving back at Adelaide Airport on Tuesday after a holiday in Queensland, Crouch said his heart was already with the Saints and that he hoped Adelaide didn't match the offer.
"I want them to not match. I've told St Kilda I'm fully committed to them, so I want to see that out," Crouch said.
"At this stage I just want to be at St Kilda and the decision I've made I'm fully committed to them.
"It's a bit stressful but I'll be fine I'm just looking forward to getting something done and set in stone."
The Crows could potentially use their compensation pick in a deal to acquire Jackson Hately from Greater Western Sydney, who has requested a trade to the Crows. Adelaide are in a position of strength when it comes to bargaining for the South Australian youngster, whose contract with the Giants has expired, as Adelaide hold the first pick in the pre-season draft.
Asked on Triple M Adelaide if it was fair to say Crouch had played his last game for the Crows, Adelaide football director Mark Ricciuto said, "No, it's not".
"It's still a possibility [he stays]," Ricciuto said on Tuesday.
"It's an interesting position."
Having long pushed for a long-term contract, Crouch told Channel Nine last month that he felt he needed to move clubs to kickstart his career.
"I do need a fresh start. I need a change of environment. I need to get out of my comfort zone. I feel like I've been in my comfort zone for a while at the footy club," Crouch said.
Wherever he ends up, Crouch won't play the first two matches of 2021 having been suspended along with teammate Tyson Stengle after being caught in possession of cocaine in the Adelaide CBD in late September.
South Australian Police sent both players to a drug diversion program, while both also recorded a strike under the AFL's illicit drug policy.
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