Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale appears to be requesting AFL trade back to Fremantle, three years after leaving the Dockers for the Brisbane Lions.
The star Lions midfielder, who has a contract for two more seasons, is considering returning to Perth to be closer to his wife’s family.
The couple is expecting the arrival of their first child together in October.
Neale played 135 games for the Dockers before seeking the Lions for a fresh start in late 2018.
Brisbane gave up two draft first rounds to Neale, who has helped catapult them to the Premier League.
In three seasons with the Lions, Neale has won two best and most fair awards, been named an All Australian twice and last year collected the league’s highest individual honor as he finished 10 votes outside of Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak in the Brownlow medal count.
If the 28-year-old leaves, it would be a hammer blow to the lions running after one of the most devastating defeats in their history.
Brisbane were bundled out of the final in straight-sets for the second time in three seasons as they lost a one-point thriller against the Western Bulldogs at Gabba on Saturday night.
This year, Neale was down to his star form for 2019 and 2020 due to a number of injuries, including back, ankle and shoulder problems, but still managed to break the record for possessions all the time in a final game.
In Lions qualifying final loss to Melbourne two weeks ago, he counted 46 sales to smash the former mark of 43 set by former Collingwood champion Dane Swan in 2011.
The Lions managed to win all seven matches Neale missed due to injury and illness this year, including throbbing victories over finalists Port Adelaide and GWS.
A Neale homecoming would more than make up for Fremantle’s impending loss of young midfielder Adam Cerra, who has already requested a transfer back to Victoria.