Charlie Curnow is the ultimate tease - one of the competition's most electric players when fit and firing, but too often not on the park to showcase his talents.
With Carlton revealing Curnow will likely have to sit out the 2020 season -- assuming it does eventually resume -- ESPN AFL writers Jake Michaels and Niall Seewang debate whether it's time for the Blues to trade their young star.
It's time to go, Charlie
Death, taxes and Charlie Curnow injuries. It seems the young Blue is going to be yet another player who fails to realise his true potential, with a string of injuries halting any sort of football continuity. Believe it or not he's already missed 31 games since the beginning of his debut year in 2016.
He's still only 23 and it might seem crazy to trade away someone with so much upside, but the Blues could cash in come the trade period if they believe the first third of his career is a strong representation of how the remaining two thirds will play out - inconsistent and injury riddled.
Right now Curnow has some serious value on the open market. He would be a strong acquisition for any club in need of a mobile key forward. When fit, he's already proven to be a match-winner and perhaps there's a club that would pay overs in the hope he can produce that on a regular basis. After all, if he can remain fit, he's a 50-goal-per-season player with enormous X-factor.
But for the long term, the Blues should be looking to build around Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern. McKay has proven to be a more consistent forward than Curnow and one who can hit the scoreboard on a more frequent basis, while plenty was invested in McGovern to bring him across from the Crows. These two are in desperate need of some ground-level support in the forward 50m. Yes, Eddie Betts is back in navy blue but his best days are behind him and Jack Martin could spend more time in the midfield as he develops. A Curnow trade could help bolster the Blues' small forward stocks and more.
Having said that, the Blues have had to watch on in recent years as a number of their former forwards have shone at other clubs - think Josh Kennedy at West Coast and Betts at Adelaide. It would be heartbreaking for them if Curnow was another, so it's definitely not an easy call.
The Blues' patience will be rewarded
Let's think back to mid-June last year. The Blues have suffered an agonising three-point loss to the Bulldogs, but the talk of the town was Curnow's 17 disposal, seven mark, seven goal masterclass that almost singlehandedly dragged his team over the line.
The-then 22-year-old had announced himself as one of the league's most dynamic key forwards, one who Carlton could build around for the next decade.
His feat was even more incredible in this era of low scoring and zone defence, where it's getting rarer and rarer for key forwards to rip games apart, especially those still learning and developing their craft.
Let's not forget, the Blues haven't been able to kick winning scores for years. In terms of total scoring, the Blues have ranked 15th, 17th, 18th and 16th in the past four years. They desperately need goalkicking power, and Curnow is one of the few players on their list who can deliver them.
Curnow hasn't lost that freakish talent. What he has lost is his continuity, playing just 11 games last year and seemingly out for the rest of 2020. There's no doubt Blues staff and fans alike will be worried by Curnow's fresh injury, but this is where Andrew Russell must earn his keep. Russell, the highly rated fitness guru who was snared by the Blues from Hawthorn at the end of 2018, simply must find a way to get the No. 12 pick of the 2015 draft fit.
Curnow is still only 23 and contracted until the end of 2023, so the Blues should give him at least one more season before exploring their options.