IF JACK Watts is on his way out of Melbourne after nine years and 153 games, it will be reluctantly and with a heavy heart.
Speaking on Tuesday, Watts said he was surprised and disappointed the club had asked him to explore his options for 2018.
It isn’t the first time the maligned Demon’s name has been thrown around in trade talks.
"I’ve had options the last four or five years and that love for the club and love for the boys has kept me there and that hasn’t changed," Watts said.
"Hopefully people can see my point of view how hard it is to leave nine-year friendships and a love for somewhere you’ve been for nine years of your life."
Watts disagreed with Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin that he was "in a rut" and believed he played good football in 2017 until he injured his hamstring.
The 26-year-old battled with form towards the end of the season but still thinks he can offer more to Melbourne.
"Seeing where the club is at the moment and where they can go, playing finals next year would be a real goal and it will be a shock to the system if I’m going to miss that," he said.
"I’m super confident in playing really good footy … and think I’ve probably got the best in front of me."
Watts’ manager Paul Connors didn’t expressly state which clubs were interested in the Dees forward but it is believed Port Adelaide and Sydney are the frontrunners to lure him out of Victoria.
"To uplift his whole life and move interstate is something Jack’s got to think about and whether that’s (best for him)," Connors said.
"It’s all come very quickly and he’s just getting his head around everything at the moment."
The Demons delisted former co-captain Jack Trengove last month, who has been in the same position as Watts in the past.
"I was told (to explore my options) a few years ago but that’s the nature of the industry these days," Trengove said.
"I think the thing he needs to focus on right now is what’s best for him and his career going forward."