One thing is certain: it’s not on the Gold Coast.
Look, let’s be real – the writing has been on the wall about Gary Ablett Jnr returning to Geelong for quite some time.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to watch him collect his Gold Coast Suns Club Champion Award in September could see it all over his face when he delivered his acceptance speech.
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To those in attendance, there was never any doubt that he would be pulling the pin on his Queensland club career.
So it was no surprise, a few weeks later, to hear that for the second time in just two years, he has asked Gold Coast to trade him back to Geelong.
The 33-year-old has now written an ‘open letter’ to explain why. In it, amongst other things, he says the move back home is an effort to reconnect with family.
“I am confident that I have a lot of footy still left in my body. But I am also aware that, at my age, it’s really all about balance,” Ablett writes.
“Sixteen years on, now married and looking to start a family, my priorities have shifted. I need to be around my family back home, who I have spent the last 7 years doing long distance with.”
He adds, “I am at a stage in my career where I need to get the balance right between footy and life outside of football, and the recent break period has allowed me the time that I needed to put certain things in place.”
You’ve got to respect his reasoning.
But it does beg the question: how realistic is his request?
As Michael Gleeson so eloquently puts it, the Suns have already paid a fair chunk of Ablett’s generous salary for 2018. He was contracted at $1m for 2017 – that’s over $70,000 for each of the 14 games he played, for those who are playing along at home – and that figure drops to $700k in 2018.
Geelong will need to come up with a fair amount of money in order to secure him. He’s an incredible player – but let’s keep in mind, he’s a player who turns 34 before the next season starts.
Regardless, one thing seems pretty assured: he won’t be lining up with the Gold Coast Suns for the 2018 season.
After all, Ablett has been on record as saying that if he does not find a way home at the end of the 2017 season, he may retire with one year remaining on his contract with the Suns. Only time will tell.