Chris Tarrant’s odyssey through AFL football may finish back in his hometown, with the Fremantle defender understood to be poised to sign with a Melbourne club.

A number of clubs in Victoria have been led to believe that Tarrant wants to return to Melbourne for family reasons and will play for considerably less than he is currently earning to do so.

Tarrant is being paid in excess of $400,000 this year, but a figure of $250,000-300,000 for 2011 — or $500,000-600,000 over two years — is the figure several Melbourne-based clubs are basing their calculations and interest on.

Tarrant married model Lauren Strauss in October last year and it is understood they are keen to resettle in Melbourne, with four clubs, among them Carlton and his former club Collingwood, identified as suitable or desirable destinations.

Tarrant spent the best part of a decade in Melbourne with the Magpies, met his Melbourne-born-and-raised wife in the city and his brother Robbie is currently playing with North Melbourne.

A return is not necessarily going to be straightforward. Tarrant’s relationship with Fremantle is healthy, he has played good football for the Dockers in defence over the past 18 months and it remains to be seen what the club will ask for in a trade if, in fact, it does not refuse to deal as a way of trying to retain him.

The trade market is going to be complicated this year by Gold Coast’s entry to the competition, with the new team’s right to recruit uncontracted players and the devaluation of draft picks caused by its start-up concessions.

A player wanting to take his career to a new club has to think about the possibility of Gold Coast intervening if a trade can not be arranged. This is not expected to be an impediment to a player of Tarrant’s age, though. He will be 30 in September and of limited appeal to a club with longer-term objectives.

Tarrant explored the option of returning to Melbourne at the end of last season but was contracted, with a year to run on the four-year deal he inked at the end of 2006. He was also coming off his best season with the Dockers, who were understandably reluctant to entertain the idea of allowing him to depart.

He was finally returning a good dividend on the club’s investment and already a lot of experience had been shed as part of an overhaul of the playing list. Two more seasoned players, Dean Solomon and Scott Thornton, have retired this year.

Tarrant crossed from Collingwood, where he played 161 matches across nine seasons, in exchange for Paul Medhurst and the first-round draft pick the Magpies used to secure Ben Reid.

Tarrant’s manager, Paul Connors, declined to comment. Fremantle football operations manager Chris Bond did not return calls.

Tarrant has played 71 of a possible 81 matches in his near four years with the Dockers, for a career total of 232. He played every game in 2009, his first in defence, and finished third in the club’s best-and-fairest award.

This season he has played 12 matches, and was selected in Fremantle’s squad of 25 for Round 16 game against Melbourne at Subiaco.

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