Neale tells Dockers he wants out
DOIG medallist Lachie Neale has requested a trade to Brisbane and is determined to play for the Lions next season, despite being crowned Fremantle's club champion for the second time on Saturday night.
Neale reportedly made his wishes clear to the Dockers nine days ago, setting the scene for a tense stand-off during the trade period which begins on Monday.
Neale's excellent season was acknowledged at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, in the same room where West Coast celebrated their premiership at the John Worsfold Medal function 24 hours earlier.
Neale (186 votes) headed long-time leader Nat Fyfe late in the count to win from veteran David Mundy (164), with Fyfe (150) slipping to third after missing six of the last eight games with a hamstring injury.
It was Mundy's 11th consecutive top-10 finish.
Neale, 25, also won in 2016 and was runner-up last season. The inside midfielder played all 22 games and averaged 30 touches and seven clearances a match.
Neale is contracted to Fremantle for 2019, so the Dockers can force him to remain at the club.
However Neale has refused to sign a contract extension and indicated he will leave at the end of next season anyway, so Fremantle will likely get a better return for him now than in 12 months' time.
Chief executive Steve Rosich said the club was "pretty comfortable" with where negotiations were at.
"He's someone we clearly want to retain. (He's) under contract for next year, so all things lead to him being in purple at least next year," Rosich said.
"He also understands the situation as well, which is he is contractually committed to Fremantle."
Rosich said he couldn't see a situation where the saga would lead to Neale sitting out of football for a year.
He said there were "four or five" rival players the Dockers were chasing and warned that getting key forward Jesse Hogan from Melbourne was far from a done deal despite Hogan completing a medical at the Dockers on Thursday. Rosich also said specialists were still assessing Hogan's foot injury.
"If you tick all those boxes, then does he definitively want to come to the football club? If you tick that box, then can you agree on a contract?," he said.
"And then the last one is can you do a suitable deal with Melbourne if that's where we get to. So there's lots of steps to go. We're not even at step one yet."