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Who heads the queue for Dion Prestia's signature?

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MAY 7:  Dion Prestia of the Suns warms up before the 2016 AFL Round 07 match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Melbourne Demons at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast on May 7, 2016. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media)
Dion Prestia is in demand but the Suns remain hopeful he'll stay on the Gold Coast

IF DION Prestia decides to leave Gold Coast, it is becoming increasingly clear he will join a Melbourne-based club that can offer him on-field success in the short-term and for the long-term.

Prestia, 23, comes out of contract at the end of this season and has attracted a wealth of interest from clubs throughout the country, but will only leave Metricon Stadium to return to his home state of Victoria. 

Prestia won't turn his mind fully to his football future until the Suns' round 13 bye, when he is due to sit down with his manager, Marty Pask, to assess his options.

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However, the clubs with a realistic chance of luring Prestia are starting to emerge.

Rival clubs believe Richmond is well in the running, while Melbourne was strongly linked with the former Calder Cannon during last year's trade period.

And some Victorian teams that inquired about Prestia recently were told by Pask it was unlikely his client would consider them as possible new homes. 

After six mostly success-starved seasons at Gold Coast, it's believed Prestia would not leave the Suns to join a team that is a few years away from contending. 

This would appear to rule out Carlton and possibly St Kilda. 

It's also likely Prestia would target a new home that could offer him sustained on-field success.

As such, he would probably be wary of joining any team he perceived to be near the end of its premiership window. North Melbourne is widely thought to be in this position, while even Hawthorn seems to be finally feeling the effects of Father Time. 

Although most opposition clubs expect Prestia will leave Gold Coast, the Suns remain hopeful of re-signing the midfielder. They remain in on-going discussions with Pask and are comfortable with how those talks are progressing.

The Suns' position is also strengthened by the fact Prestia is not a free agent, meaning he can only depart Gold Coast via a trade or the draft.

Prestia was pick No.9 in Gold Coast's inaugural 2010 draft and industry sources believe the Suns would demand at least a pick around that mark should he request a trade.

The Assumption College product finished second to Gary Ablett in Gold Coast's 2013 best and fairest award and was third the following year.

A left knee injury ended Prestia's 2015 season after round eight and disrupted his 2016 pre-season.

The 23-year-old returned in time for the Suns' round one win over Essendon and has missed just one game since.

Amid Gold Coast's injury-ravaged start to the season, Prestia has stood up, averaging 24.9 possessions a game (third at the club behind Aaron Hall and Ablett). 

He is also ranked second at the Suns this year for contested possessions and third for clearances, inside 50s and tackles. 

Prestia is not the only out-of-contract Gold Coast player toying with a move at the end of the season.

Fellow midfielder Jaeger O'Meara is also considering a shift to Victoria, with the West Australian most strongly linked to Hawthorn and St Kilda.

O'Meara, 2013's NAB AFL Rising Star, has not played since rupturing a patella tendon in a NEAFL practice match at the start of last year, but the question marks over his ability to return to peak fitness and form have only marginally diminished the interest of rival clubs. 

Ruckman Tom Nicholls and swingman Sam Day are also out of contract, with the former linked to the Western Bulldogs. 

However, the Suns have secured three key signatures already this year, re-signing star spearhead Tom Lynch, running defender Kade Kolodjashnij and forward/ruckman Peter Wright.