Gold Coast Suns' captain Gary Ablett has requested a trade back to his old club, the Geelong Cats, before the start of the 2018 Premiership. Unless you've been living under a rock this year, it's no secret that the star has been pushing for this move for some time, and the powerful midfielder has even talked about retirement if a deal does not eventuate between the two clubs.
While still has one year left on his contract with the Suns, the 33-year-old told his club he has no plans to continue beyond the end of the current term. The player's manager, Liam Pickering, confirmed this later, going on to say that while they were hopeful a deal could be struck with the Cats, it certainly won't be a walk in the park.
Gold Coast have mentioned that they would want Geelong to pay Ablett's wage as compensation as well as receiving a player to make up for his absence. Pickering said that the Suns had not proposed any particular players that they would be interested in as part of an exchange as of yet.
The Suns struggled last season and only narrowly avoided taking out the competition's wooden spoon, finishing just four points above the Brisbane Lions. If they were to lose their most high-profile player, the latest AFL odds would have them as one of the favourites to finish bottom next year, and it could have a devastating effect on the club's chances of signing new players.
Next year would be the player's 18th AFL season, but he is still in sensational form and recently won the Club Champion of the Year award at the Suns' presentation evening.
Ablett's desire to move on won't have come as a surprise to the club, after he previously requested a transfer in last year's AFL exchange period as well as saying back in April that this could be his last season of footy. When speaking out back then he talked about his desire to be back with his family in Melbourne, and it seems as though little has changed in that respect.
Geelong have now been informed of the player's decision and are most likely putting together some viable options to present to the Suns. Gazza is adored by the local fans down south and his homecoming has been anticipated for some time.
The Cats have openly stated that they believe a deal for Ablett is going to be extremely difficult, although Steven Motlop and Daniel Menzel are two of Geelong's high-profile players that are out of contract at the end of the year and could possibly be used in a trade.
In last year's trade period, the Suns lost midfielders Dion Prestia to the Richmond Tigers and Jaeger O'Meara to the Hawthorne Hawks and they will be hesitant to part with another so soon.
Understandably, Gold Coast are reluctant to release their prized captain with the player being such an important part of their side. The fact that he won this year's best and fairest award despite playing only 14 matches proves what an invaluable addition he has been for the young club.
During his time at the Gold Coast, Ablett has tallied up 122 Brownlow Medal votes out of his 110 eligible games. The second best after that is Tom Lynch and Aaron Hall, who have both chalked up 27 votes each.