Christian Welch's latest ACL rupture is expected to scotch contract negotiations with Parramatta as the Storm forward faces another lengthy stint on the sidelines.
Melbourne confirmed the worst for Welch on Saturday morning, with the Queensland Origin debutant requiring season-ending knee reconstruction after going down in the Storm's emphatic 40-4 defeat of Brisbane.
Welch has been in talks with the Eels for some time, having met with coach Brad Arthur and toured club facilities in Sydney's west.
But his second ACL tear – to the opposite knee that cost him a start in the 2017 grand final – is understood to have big ramifications for what Parramatta are willing to offer given Welch will likely miss the start of next season.
The 25-year-old took up a contract option with the Storm for next year in May when it was feared Welch had torn his ACL against the Tigers.
But club and player were willing to negotiate a release if a chance for a better contract presented elsewhere when follow-up scans revealed he had only suffered meniscus damage.
Welch's rise to the Origin arena and sterling reputation off the field had made him an attractive option at market, with Parramatta identifying him as a prime recruitment target for the front-row stocks.
Penrith's Reagan Campbell-Gillard is also on the club's radar, though the Panthers will have to kick in a hefty portion of his salary to move the former NSW prop on.
The Eels have vowed not to be drawn into paying overs under their new management, evident in the lengthy contract talks before captain Clint Gutherson re-signed.