FOR THOSE who have questioned Geelong's wisdom to take back superstar veteran Gary Ablett, consider this.

According to Champion Data, Ablett was the only midfielder to rate elite for both disposals and metres gained a game while retaining an elite kick in 2017.

And he also rated elite for clearances and score involvements per game.

Champion Data believes the Cats' time is now and the return of the prodigal son after seven years with Gold Coast could prove a masterstroke.

The true elites: Shock inclusions in Champion Data's latest rankings

In the 2018 AFL Prospectus, the AFL's official statistical data supplier laid bare the extent to which the ageing Cats rely on their older players.

Geelong has the second-highest number of players over the age of 25 (21), with Ablett, the eldest, to turn 34 in May.

This contingent of senior Cats is ranked third in the AFL for quality - behind Sydney and Port Adelaide - and boasts 11 players rated as either elite or above average. 

Reinforcing the urgency is the fact that eight of their 10 oldest players are at least in the above average category.

Champion Data last year ranked the Cats' list the ninth best in the AFL and they ultimately finished third; and this year, following the addition of Ablett, they've been upgraded to sixth. 

With their premiership clock ticking, the Cats will be desperate to make the most of Ablett's extraordinary, and so far undiminished, powers. 

The only query on the dual Brownlow medallist is his durability, given injuries have restricted him to just 34 of a possible 73 games since late in the 2014 season.

However, his star quality remains undisputed.

Champion Data highlighted that when 'The Little Master' won the Suns' best and fairest last year after making just 14 appearances, he was among only three midfielders to be rated elite in both contested and uncontested possessions a game.

Ablett is one of four Cats to be rated elite, along with Patrick Dangerfield and, surprisingly, Sam Menegola and Daniel Menzel

The prospect of Ablett and Dangerfield spending more time forward should also help an attack that Champion Data describes as "a slight concern".

Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood lead Geelong out for last year's semi-final. Picture AFL Photos