PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 09: Tim Kelly of the Eagles poses for a photo session for his new club after the West Coast Media Opportunity at Mineral Resources Park on October 09, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett has conceded the club's lucrative 2019 trade for former Cat Tim Kelly is yet to pay off, with the Eagles needing to "go back to the drawing board".

After a resounding two seasons at Kardinia Park as a mature-aged draftee for Geelong, Kelly requested a trade back to his home state of Western Australia to join the Eagles.

The plea was Kelly's second in as many years, having also requested a move to WA after just one term with Geelong.

After the Cats remained adamant on holding onto the silky midfielder, Kelly enjoyed a career-best campaign in 2019 and only further ascended his value in the AFL.

His next trade request was granted by the Cats, with the Eagles required to move Picks 14, 24, 37 and a future first-round selection to land Kelly on a reported six-year, $5 million deal.

The magnitude of the deal was unparalleled, with Kelly landing at the Eagles - a club who had previously overlooked his services - after just 48 career games to his name.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 09: Tim Kelly of the Eagles poses for a photo session for his new club after the West Coast Media Opportunity at Mineral Resources Park on October 09, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

While Kelly has continued to flourish, the 27-year-old has struggled to match the substantial price tag that came with his move west.

Speaking at a recent Perth Football League event, Nisbett said that several factors have influenced Kelly's ability to reach expectations, limiting the Eagles' payoff.

“When you make those decisions you make them based around trying to win the next premiership and that’s how we made that decision,” Nisbett said, via The West. 

“When we traded for Tim, he came into our club as a ready-made player. It was lauded as one of the best trading deals in the history of the game.

“(The deal) hasn’t worked because the people around him have fallen away and we haven’t had a fit, healthy squad. We haven’t gotten it right.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 02: Tim Kelly of the Eagles looks for the handless options during the 2021 AFL Round 07 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium on May 02, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“So now you go back to the drawing board and try and get it right.”

Across almost as many games as he played with the Cats, Kelly has seen his numbers take a hit as the Eagles fall out of finals contention.

The Cats featured in the September action in both seasons Kelly called Geelong home, while the South Fremantle product has made just one post-season appearance in the blue and gold.

While many have come to criticise Kelly's move back home, Nisbett echoed the call for the finger-pointing to be directed elsewhere.,

“He’s playing great footy at the moment yet people want to criticise him and they shouldn’t be criticising him,” he said.

“If people didn’t like the deal, that’s fine. But they certainly shouldn’t be criticising Tim for what he’s doing and how he’s performed.”

As the Eagles look to recover from a disastrous opening half to the year, attention is already turning to how the WA powerhouse club will attack the off-season.

Last year saw West Coast recruit their first opening-round selection since 2017, having turned most of their top selections into rival assets at the trade table in the years prior.

The Eagles are set to hold their selections in 2022, moving away from targeting ready-made talent like Kelly.

“We have gone back to the draft last year, we’ll do the same this year,” he said.

“We’ll pick players that we believe are talented and have the potential to help us in the short, medium and long term.”

The Eagles currently sit 18th on the AFL ladder and firm as a likely chance to hold one of the two opening draft selections at this year's National Draft.

Adam Simpson's side will return from their bye next week to face Geelong at Optus Stadium on Saturday, June 18, in what will be Kelly's third encounter against his former side.