Socceroos attacker Mathew Leckie is keeping a spectrum of options open as he enters the final year of his Hertha Berlin contract, including an unlikely return to the A-League.
But it’s understood remaining in Germany, moving elsewhere in Europe or heading to Japan are all preferred possibilities as Leckie, 29, edges towards a likely Hertha exit.
After just eight appearances in all competitions this season - and just a single Bundesliga start - a frustrated Leckie has been squeezed out of regular contention by the influx of $100 million worth of attacking talent in the form of Dodi Lukebakio, Matheus Cunha and Krzysztof Piatek.
He made only his second Bundesliga appearance since November in last week’s 2-0 win over Augsburg, coming off the bench on the hour-mark to play an influential role.
Only a strained adductor muscle ruled him out at the weekend as Die Alte Dame lost 1-0 to second-placed Borussia Dortmund to drop to ninth on the ladder.
It’s becoming clear that new coach Bruno Labbadia - the fourth man to hold the reins at the Olympiastadion this season - sees him as a valuable squad player still, keeping alive the alternative plot line of Leckie staying put.
Having made 18 Bundesliga appearances last season, Leckie, though, wants to be more than a bit-part player - whether he stays or goes.
Were the likes of a Melbourne City or Melbourne Victory prepared to make a sizable investment for next season, it would not be discounted out of hand.
That is assuming any Australian club will be in a position to seriously court 63-cap Leckie, or any other player of his calibre, in the immediate future with the A-League and its clubs facing drastic cuts in rights holder payments from current broadcaster Fox Sports.
Leckie was close to joining Championship club Queens Park Rangers prior to his move from Ingolstadt to Hertha back in 2017, but terms could not be agreed.
Another bite from an English club is possible, with Leckie’s all-action, high-energy game seemingly tailor-made for the cut and thrust of the Championship.