GEELONG will need to contend with St Kilda in enticing contracted North Melbourne midfielder Shaun Higgins out of Arden Street.
AFL.com.au understands the Cats and Saints are circling hardest for Higgins with the lure of chasing a premiership to finish his impressive career.
Higgins, 32, has a year to run on his deal with the Roos but is open to the possibility of departing to open up salary cap room and provide another draft pick for his rebuilding club.
It is understood Higgins has been told he is free to look elsewhere to secure himself a longer term with the Roos only willing to guarantee his future for 2021.
Having offered Higgins a three-year deal to 2022 at the end of last season, the Cats are the frontrunners to land the former Geelong Falcons junior who still has family in his hometown.
The Cats will make room for Higgins on a two-year deal to 2022 should he wish to depart, with the possibility of the Roos paying a portion of his wage for 2021.
The Cats are awaiting an answer from Greater Western Sydney star Jeremy Cameron on his future and are also chasing Brad Crouch (Adelaide), plus hold an interest in Joe Daniher (Essendon) and Jack Viney (Melbourne).
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All four are restricted free agents at season's end.
Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins is on the verge of a new two-year deal and onballer Brandan Parfitt will soon ink an extension, but the Cats believe they have room in their salary cap to attract more talent.
Should it land Higgins, it would be the second consecutive season Geelong has landed a contracted midfielder from another club after acquiring Jack Steven from St Kilda ahead of 2020.
The Saints have also thrown themselves into the Higgins market to add polish to their midfield.
After several years of underspend in their cap, the Saints have the room to target more midfielders this season and are also chasing Giants rising star Jye Caldwell on a long-term deal.
Saints list advisor Graeme Allen also spent time consulting for the Roos during the 2018 season as they targeted, and missed, high-profile talent to accompany Higgins.
Higgins is currently holidaying in Noosa and this week bumped into several St Kilda players during a Saints beach session as they prepare for their first finals campaign in nine years.
Higgins was open to a move away from North Melbourne last year but opted to stay and add another season to his deal for 2021 under new coach Rhyce Shaw.
Higgins recently spoke about the regression of the Roos this season on where he envisaged they would sit.
"We're not in the position that we wanted to be or where I thought we would be," Higgins told SEN last month.
His role at the Roos also changed to a more 'outside' position this year, going from averaging three clearances in the first half of the season to one per match in the second half.
North Melbourne currently holds picks two and nine and will be looking for further draft capital as it looks to rebuild up to one-third of its list.
Given his age, it is not expected a trade for Higgins would command a top-20 selection but would likely fit into the second round.
The Cats currently hold three first-round picks at this year's NAB AFL Draft, but with Academy bids set to fall early, their own pick and the selection tied to West Coast (via Tim Kelly) could push into the 20s.
They also have their second-round pick to use this season.
The Saints are armed with their first-round pick, but would have to turn to future picks in the second and third rounds after trading them out to secure their monster haul last year.
Higgins, a dual North Melbourne best and fairest and 2018 All Australian, has played 108 games for the Roos after crossing from the Western Bulldogs where he played 129 matches from 2006-2014.