Gold Coast star Tom Lynch has been stripped of the AFL club's captaincy after telling the Suns he wants to return to Melbourne.
The 25-year-old has told club officials and teammates he will exercise his rights as a restricted free agent at the end of the season, with Richmond, Collingwood and Hawthorn vying to secure his services.
Lynch arrived back on the Gold Coast on Thursday after undergoing knee surgery in Melbourne, where he met with prospective suitors.
The key forward is set to join a long list of players who have bailed out on the struggling expansion club.
Gold Coast have the right to match any offers for Lynch but history suggests the key forward is certain to be playing elsewhere next season.
No club has ever opted to match an offer for a restricted free agent and the Suns will likely instead accept compensation in the form of an early first-round draft pick.
Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans on Thursday said Lynch, who has shared captaincy duties with Steven May for the past two seasons, would be stripped of his position.
"We accept that the free-agency system provides this option for Tom and will move forward with the best interests of the club at heart," Evans said in a statement.
"I can confirm that the board, senior members of our football department and the player leadership group share a view that Tom should relinquish his captaincy of the club and therefore his position has been rescinded.
"The club will continue to assist Tom with his rehabilitation from injury, however he won't be part of the football program for the remainder of the season."
Lynch has played 131 games for the Suns across eight seasons, booting 254 goals.
His season came to a premature end after round 14 when the Suns booked him in for surgery on a posterior cruciate ligament injury.
Richmond are thought to be frontrunners to secure Lynch's services while Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley this month confirmed he had met with the Victorian native.
"Tom understands all the mechanics of being a restricted free agent, which ultimately can't come to a conclusion until October," Evans said.
"Importantly for us we still have four matches to play this season and our focus is on continuing to build an environment and game plan that will set us up for the future."