GEELONG midfielder Tim Kelly has officially requested a trade to West Coast.
The 25-year-old midfielder informed the Cats of his decision on Wednesday, ending a season of speculation in which the club had been bracing for his formal decision.
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Kelly has chosen the Eagles over Fremantle, seeing the 2018 premiers as more equipped to handle his family situation.
The star onballer enjoyed a standout second season in the AFL, finishing fifth in the Brownlow Medal with 24 votes and earning selection in the Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team. He was drafted with pick No.24 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.
It is believed Kelly had been hoping to keep the announcement out of the public eye until the club's best and fairest on Thursday night.
However, Geelong got on the front foot in an attempt to own the narrative and get the messaging on its terms.
The Cats released a statement on Wednesday afternoon confirming Kelly had informed the club of his decision to return home to Western Australian with a preference to play for West Coast.
"Tim is out of contract but is not a free agent," the Cats said. "The club will explore all options in regard to Tim’s request."
Kelly's request comes just 12 months after the Cats knocked back a deal from the Eagles in the final hour of the Trade Period for the then contracted West Australian.
The Eagles have offered Kelly a five-year deal and have picks 14, 22, 32 and 59 in this year's NAB AFL Draft in order to complete a trade.
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Kelly's manager Anthony Van Der Wielen also released a statement on Wednesday.
"I can confirm Geelong’s press release is correct," Van Der Wielen said. "Tim Kelly has today formally requested a trade to the West Coast Eagles.
"This is not a decision that Tim has taken lightly.
"I know he is forever grateful for the opportunity the Geelong FC have given him and he has enjoyed being able to represent the club. Something which I think we all agree he has done to the best of his ability over the past two seasons.
"It is well known by all that are close to Tim and his partner Caitlin that their young family are dealing with some significant challenges with two of their three children being classified as autistic.
"Tim and his family need to be at home surrounded by family and friends who can best assist them with therapy and support.
"After careful consideration Tim and Caitlin believe that West Coast can best provide the right environment for him and his family to prosper."