Gold Coast will ask for Mitch Duncan in a trade for Gary Ablett after the dual Brownlow medallist formally asked the Suns for a trade back to Geelong and repeated his warning that he would retire if a trade cannot be done.
Nakia Cockatoo will also be raised as a trade option by the Suns with Gold Coast wanting the Cats to pay some of the contract for next year to repay the front-ended component of Ablett's wage.
It is understood the Suns maintain Duncan's name was raised in preliminary discussions 12 months ago and they will push for him to be part of the trade conversation this year. Duncan has this year emerged as a far better player and it is unlikely the Cats would entertain the Suns' provocative trade push.
The Suns argue their player is under contract, is still one of the best in the game and could lift the preliminary finalists into flag contention.
The suggestion of a trade for Duncan and Cockatoo, while seemingly an ambit claim, indicates the Suns will play hard in negotiations.
Ablett has said family reasons are behind his request for a move back to Victoria and mean he would quit football rather than play on at the Suns. Ablett is contracted for next year at the Gold Coast but is expected to be offered a two-year deal at Geelong, with his money spread over the longer period.
"Gary Ablett today informed the club of his desire to be traded to Geelong during next month's exchange period," Suns chief executive Mark Evans said.
"We indicated to Gary and his manager Liam Pickering that there are conditions that will need to be met for the Gold Coast if this is to be achieved."
"[List manager] Scott Clayton will be available to meet with Liam and Geelong to ensure these conditions are met."
Those conditions are understood to be a return of about $300,000 that Ablett received as part of a front-ended component to his contract. That is, the Suns have already paid Ablett a portion of his contract for next year and so would want to be repaid that amount for a trade to occur.
It is understood that for a trade to be completed Gold Coast would seek a player rather than a draft pick as they would want Geelong to pay all or part of the contract to recoup the money already spent on Ablett for next year.
Gold Coast would not have to pay Ablett's contract if he were to retire but they would have to include that money in their salary cap, so by trading him to Geelong they would not only get compensation in a trade but would also get salary cap relief.
Previously Geelong coach Chris Scott has cast doubt on the ability of the clubs to secure a trade.
"If the obstacles I'm hearing are correct and factual then they're too great," Scott said earlier this month.
Geelong released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying they would work with Gold Coast.
"The club is respectful of the fact Ablett is a contracted player with the Gold Coast and as such, the Suns have the final say on a trade agreement," the statement said.
Geelong do not have a first-round pick this year, having traded it to Carlton for Zach Tuohy, but in return got the Blues' second-round pick. The effect of this is that in this year's draft their first pick moved from 15 to 20.
Complicating the picture is that Ablett is 33 and for whatever reasons this year, whether it was injury or interest, managed only 14 games. Despite that he polled 14 Brownlow votes on Monday night - more than any other Suns player - and won his fourth Suns best and fairest award this year.
The two-time Geelong premiership player played 192 games for the Cats before joining the Suns on a multimillion-dollar deal at the end of 2010.
He has been an All Australian eight times and won Geelong's goalkicking once and the Suns' twice, so despite his age he could reasonably play more as a small forward than a midfielder.