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Adam Cerra and the issues with AFL trade rumours

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24th June, 2021
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Que Cerra Cerra, whatever Adam’s future will be, will be.

If only it were that simple in today’s day and age. Right now, Adam Cerra is simply the latest poster boy for the divisiveness that comes with trade hypotheticals during the AFL season.

AFL fans and the media are infatuated with exploring trades and player movement constantly. Not a week goes by during a season where players aren’t linked with rival clubs.

Naturally, the teams themselves undergo their own processes and adhere to internal timelines to monitor rival players, yet it’s clear that so little of that becomes public knowledge.

Whether or not it should be discussed is almost beside the point, as it’s inevitable and often a fun watercooler discussion among supporters.

Rather, it’s more the extreme valuation of players at either end of the spectrum that emerge, dominating the discussion and taking it beyond anything touching on nuanced or analytical.

The way players are rated transforms from a seemingly normal assessment to an over-the-top show, where media and fans try and top each other for the most outlandish of claims.

When it comes to Cerra, a 21-year-old player in his fourth season, it isn’t surprising that there is such volatility in opinions expressed through social media by Fremantle fans, opposition fans and the media themselves due to his initial draft position and the rumours that fly around.

The player himself is playing well, not that you’d know it.

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In his nine full games this season, Cerra is averaging 24 disposals, six marks, five inside 50s, three clearances and a goal assist per game. He has finished with over five tackles on three occasions in 2021.

Adam Cerra of the Dockers looks on

(Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

He is rated above average in effective kicks, metres gained and inside 50s, and is elite in his ability to set up goals and works hard defensively to provide timely spoils.

Cerra has shown an ability to play across halfback with his excellent kicking, he can settle on the wing and work hard in both directions and he is a midfielder that can win the contested ball and hunt the opposition in close quarters.

Trajectory-wise, from his draft year, the 68-game midfielder is ticking along nicely and has shown the elite traits that saw him likened to Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury in the first place.

Yet once Cerra’s contract status comes into question, as has been the case with many others before him, it’s almost as if none of that matters.

The fact we’re dealing with a young player who hasn’t become elite early in his career is always going to create tension in any discussion.

Loyal fans can be among the most impatient members of society and if an example is necessary, take the view on Darcy Parish before 2021, when played out of position, and look at how highly he is considered now.

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Let’s say the Docker looks like re-signing.

From a Fremantle fan’s perspective, Cerra is held as one of their best young talents with high potential and has already shown consistently good form. Opposition fans and some media subsequently criticise the value of the contract, suggesting the player is being overpaid and the club has ruined their future.

Then there’s the other side of the equation, if the 21-year-old looks like he may be on the way out of Fremantle.

His current team’s fan base then believes “he isn’t that good anyway” among their own fans yet drive his value up beyond belief, while the opposition supporters believe they’re receiving the greatest player of all time, who should arrive at a discounted rate.

Adam Cerra passes.

(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Diehard supporters are so fickle sometimes. We all have that in us.

Then, there is the added fuel from the media, who can stir up rumour and innuendo, and others who become player agents overnight, understanding the fiscal nature of contract negotiations and can make black and white calls based on a dollar value that often ends up being irrelevant in the end anyway.

Even within the last three weeks, a media personality around Western Australia has tweeted that Cerra is both likely to leave the Dockers and will sign a contract soon to stay with the club.

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You can remove Cerra’s name and substitute in a wide variety of players on a yearly basis. One look at social media and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has gone from being the next Lance Franklin in his draft year to a VFL-level player with huge fitness concerns.

Given the nature of these discussions and the access the general public has to these players, it can quite clearly have an impact on the individuals being discussed as pawns in a footy lover’s chess game.

Quite clearly, most tweets and posts on forums have absolutely no reflection on the reality of the situation.

There is nothing productive about a discussion on the player that seemingly becomes more about using their name as a weapon in confrontational discourse.

Perhaps that, because this is universally accepted among the biggest sports in the world, many won’t have a problem with any of this.

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But often, instead of analysing the impact players can have on a team, assessing their current output and using logic to justify arguments on players and clubs, we are left with messages and forums that can vary from baseless to vitriolic on a player’s worth.

If the media is going to suggest Adam Cerra isn’t a good fit for Carlton, the depth provided must go beyond the fact that their opinion is that he isn’t worth $750,000 a year, and more about the club’s development of young talent, their unwillingness to persist with recruits in new positions through tough patches of form or any other trait-specific reason that may pop up.

Surely there is as much room for proper analysis on even the most hypothetical of player movements as there has been for critical tweets for cheap likes.

And of course, there are specific websites that run rife with rumours from “inside sources” that will instigate discussion and lend themselves to creating hostile environments within the realm of trade talk. If you’re not interested in it, it’s easy enough to avoid.

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The whole contract situation of Adam Cerra however is simply a timely reminder that trade and player movement discussions are rarely informative and analytical, which is a shame given how important it is to the game.

We can hope that as the list management field continues to be Americanised, we will see more and more deep-dives and nuanced analysis because a lot of us crave the sort of discussion we hear and read from the top journalists covering the NFL and NBA off-seasons.

Everyone has a right to share their opinions, provided they are reasonable and not untoward. We all send out our tweets or write our pieces, sometimes insightful and sometimes otherwise, but those that are well-credentialled within the industry and have a voice should be held to higher standards than the general fan.

We deserve to see better coverage from those who cover the game, on all the late-night shows, the pre-match talk and in our papers.

Adam Cerra is a good young player with the potential to become a star. He’s not the only one.

Let’s remember that as uncertainty continues to surround his and every other potentially moving player’s future.

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