Former Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow thinks it’s a good thing that Lachie Neale has decided to see out the remaining two years of his contract with Brisbane.
Neale sent the footy world into a tailspin last weekend when it was announced he may look for a trade back to the Dockers - with whom he played 135 games with to start his career – this off-season.
Luckily for Lions fans, the 2020 Brownlow Medallist decided to stay put, confirming that news in recent days.
While there’s no doubting his on-field ability, Barlow believes Neale’s addition could’ve weakened the Dockers in the long-term due to the significant pieces they’d need to trade to get him back to the club.
In addition to any potential trade, Barlow believes Neale will return down the line when he is more affordable and when the club’s ready to compete for a premiership.
“The holistic view of it, and when the dust settled down, the best thing has happened for both football clubs,” Barlow said on AFL Nation.
“Brisbane keep their Brownlow Medallist, the guy that’s been a two-time best and fairest winner and two-time All Australian for them. He’s got a two-year contract and he’s staying.
“For Freo, the romance of it – and it didn’t - shouldn’t have outweighed the sensibility of the move.
“Fremanlte have got a really good draft hand this year, they’ve got a top pick, they’ll get one for Adam Cerra and they would have had to part with one of them or maybe both to get Lachie Neale back.
“In terms of the long build, keep Lachie Neale at Brisbane, because he’ll come back eventually.
“That’s my take, he will be back at Fremantle at the end of his contract.”
Barlow believes Neale returning then, when he’ll cost the club less and they’ll be ready to launch for a premiership, is a better move for all parties.
“That’ll be when Fremantle are building, and he’ll become available in 2024,” Barlow added.
“(Caleb) Serong, (Hayden) Young and (Luke) Ryan…they’ll be in the sweet spot of their career.
“They’ll have another good hand at the draft next year, Andrew Brayshaw will have turned into an absolute A-grader by then. They’re a club that I’ll be watching in a few years.
“Fremantle would be thinking Lachie Neale will come back, but they can’t give up the godfather deal to get him right now.”