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Plot thickens in major AFL trade war

Trade talk continues to swirl around Essendon with updates provided on several key stars.Adam Saad was weighing up a four-year contract extension with the Bombers as other clubs like Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond reportedly expressed interest in snapping up the rebounding defender should he leave Tullamarine.Watch the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series on Kayo…

Trade talk continues to swirl around Essendon with updates provided on several key stars.

Adam Saad was weighing up a four-year contract extension with the Bombers as other clubs like Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond reportedly expressed interest in snapping up the rebounding defender should he leave Tullamarine.

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Saad, who finished third in the club’s Best and fairest this year, was reportedly concerned with how Essendon was tracking after another poor season that saw it finish 13th, but the Dons have upped the ante in their bid to keep the 26-year-old.

Channel 7’s Mark Stevens reports Essendon has now tabled a five-year deal to Saad which effectively matches rivals’ offers in terms of dollars and makes it more likely he will stay — unless he’s so disenfranchised with the direction the club is heading in that not even money and job security can convince him to remain in the red and black.

According to Stevens, Essendon’s offer is worth between $600,000-$700,000 a season.

“Essendon has now upped that offer to five years, which is a massive show of faith in Adam Saad … and the money now is very close to what it is on offer at Carlton and other clubs,” Stevens told RSN Radio.

“Adam Saad now has a decision to make between Essendon and the others, not based on money and length of terms, but based on where he’s happiest.

“You would think reading between the lines that he’s now likely to stay, as you’d think you would given Essendon have done so much for him and are now prepared to offer him a five-year deal.

“Usually it’s for more money or a longer term that people leave, but now it’s line ball and if he does leave then that would be a slap on the Essendon Football Club, of course.

“But I think he’s more likely now to stay.

“You can look at it another way and say perhaps it’s a Hail Mary from Essendon because they think he’s probably halfway out the door so we can throw this at him now, but you’d be more positive now as an Essendon person that he would stay at five years.

“It’s a huge call for Adam Saad.”

Stevens also reported key forward Joe Daniher — who has played only 15 games in the past three seasons because of injury — is looking like he’ll leave Essendon to join Brisbane.

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Meanwhile, small forward Orazio Fantasia is expected to play at a South Australian club next season.

AFL.com.au reported the results of his medical testing would be sent to Port Adelaide and the Crows as the 25-year-old seeks a return to his home state.

Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph said Fantasia’s exit from Essendon is essentially a done deal.

“If it is that he passes that independent medical test, I think it’s sure that he will find his way to one of the South Australian clubs,” Ralph told Fox Footy.

“I think that door is effectively shut for him to return to the Essendon Football Club.

“He could’ve secured a four-year deal on significant money last year. He decided instead he would remain with the Essendon Football Club and he probably wanted to repay their faith as well.

“But everything now points to him moving on.”

There’s been plenty of talk about what players will leave Essendon — but the Bombers were also reported to be interested in luring Richmond premiership defender Bachar Houli across town.

Houli played 26 games for Essendon before joining the Tigers in 2011, but the unrestricted free agent has reportedly been offered a multi-year deal rather than the one-year contracts he’s been signing with Richmond.

Houli wasn’t giving much away when asked about his future on the Triple M Hot Breakfast this morning.

“I’ve got another mouth to feed so I’ve got to think of my future,” Houli said, referring to his newborn baby.

“I’m sure my management is taking care of the business side of things but I’m just focusing on football right now. I’m so happy at Richmond Football Club that my mind is nowhere else at the moment.”

Elsewhere, SEN’s Sam Edmund reports Richmond is interested in recruiting free agent Brad Crouch, who looks set to leave the Crows.

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