It might well be an old fashioned argument in these days of new franchises, constant player movements and big-money contracts, but Chris Tarrant leaves Fremantle owing a debt to the club.

After mounting speculation, Tarrant confirmed on Sunday that his time at Fremantle is over, with the revitalised defender to move back to Melbourne.

Carlton, Hawthorn, St Kilda and even his former club Collingwood are all said to be preparing offers, after Fremantle reportedly bent over backwards to keep the 29-year-old.

That he has any currency on the AFL market – as a tall and increasingly rare key defender – has as much to do with his own determination to turn his career around as it does Fremantle’s faith and perseverance.

Tarrant was Collingwood’s leading goalkicker from 2001-05, and he was named All-Australian in 2003, the same year he finished second in the Magpies’ best and fairest award.

But that wasn’t the player Fremantle acquired at the end of 2006.

Tarrant’s career as a forward stalled in his last two seasons with the Pies, and he averaged 1.5 goals a game in his first two years at Fremantle.

Halfway through a four-year contract, Fremantle needed to ensure it got some sort of return out of Tarrant, and Tarrant needed a spark.

He got it via an inspired move from coach Mark Harvey who switched the full-forward to full-back, where he flourished in 2009 to finish third in the club’s best and fairest award.

“I’d like to think that Chris understands the coaches have found him a new lease on life,” Harvey said at the end of 2009, when rumours of a return to Melbourne first surfaced.

Tarrant stayed with Fremantle for the final year of his contract, and his performances were again first-rate before injury struck.

With his return to Melbourne, he will leave as one of Fremantle’s four most important players, but one that is yet to play in finals with the club.

Fremantle has helped turn Tarrant’s career around, and Tarrant himself was in a position to help an emerging young side turn its fortunes around.

Finishing his career in the west, with success on the horizon, should not have been too much to ask.

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