Out-of-contract Adam Saad has reportedly told the Essendon Bombers he wants to join Carlton next season.
As reported by The Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph, Carlton believes it has secured Saad with a five-season, $3.25 million deal.
The 26-year-old was weighing up a four-year contract extension with the Bombers as other clubs expressed interest in snapping up the rebounding defender.
According to Channel 7 reporter Mark Stevens, Essendon’s offer was worth between $600,000-$700,000 a season.
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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.
The Bombers finished 13th on the AFL ladder after losing nine of their last 10 games in the regular season.
Saad has only played in one finals match since making his AFL debut with the Gold Coast Suns in 2015.
Fox Sports journalist Tom Morris revealed Saad deliberated for three weeks before notifying the Bombers of his decision this week.
Ralph spoke about the pending trade on Fox Footy’s AFL Tonight: “It is a bombshell for both the Carlton Football Club and also Essendon … the off-season absolutely should transform Carlton into genuine contenders.
“He’s the best two-way defender in football.”
Wide World of Sports producer Chris De Silva tweeted: “Good luck to Adam Saad. He’s a sensational player who’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. I don’t blame a single player who wants to leave because of the direction of the club, I’d do exactly the same.”
The arch rivals will now need to facilitate a trade, potentially for a Draft pick. Carlton currently has picks 7, 27 and 45 in the early rounds of this year’s AFL Draft.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, co-host Mark Robinson suggested Saad’s decision highlighted cultural problems within the Bombers.
“This is a very, very, very big negative towards the culture and the direction at this football club,” Robinson said on Tuesday evening.
“He’s 26 years of age, you don’t have players walking out at 26 when they’ve got a five-year offer on the table from Essendon … is this the first, or the last?
“Ben Rutten the coach, Xavier Campbell the CEO and the football department have to ask themselves, have they got a cultural problem at that football club?”
Last week, Essendon great Tim Watson suggested out-of-contract Saad had “one foot out the door” following the club’s underwhelming season.
“I’m hearing that Adam Saad, who is probably close to my favourite Essendon player, has one foot out the door,” Watson told SEN Breakfast.
“I hope I’m wrong because he is one of my favourite players.”
Richmond, North Melbourne and Melbourne also reportedly made a play for the star defender.
Despite the shortened quarters, Saad averaged a career-high 18.8 disposals this season for the Bombers.
Last month, Carlton also snared Zac Williams after the GWS Giants utility exercised his free agency rights.