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Clubs circle unsigned young Bomber

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 14: Jayden Laverde of the Bombers in action during the 2016 AFL Round 21 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Jayden Laverde is on the radar of several rival clubs

CLUBS are ramping up their interest in second-year Essendon forward Jayden Laverde, who remains unsigned heading into the off-season.

The Bombers are just two weeks away from ending their 2016 campaign with Laverde a key player still out of contract for next season. understands a number of clubs are eyeing the 20-year-old, who has played the past six games for the Bombers after returning from a shoulder injury.

Contract talks have been ongoing for a new deal with Laverde for some time but he is yet to sign on for next year, with rivals increasing their interest in the impressive half-forward.

A number of clubs had Laverde ranked as a top-10 pick in his 2014 NAB AFL Draft season, before he got through to the Bombers' selection at No.20.

He was Essendon's second top-20 choice that season, following No.17 pick Kyle Langford, who has played 15 senior games this season mainly through the midfield and forward line.

Laverde played the last nine games of his debut 2015 season before an ankle injury interrupted the start of his campaign this year. He entered the team in round four against the Cats but ruptured his AC joint in the Bombers' loss and required surgery.

He returned to the senior side against St Kilda in round 16 and booted two goals, and he has excited with his pace, overhead marking and attacking flair. In time it is expected he will move into a more permanent midfield role.

Laverde is one of only a handful of players taken in the top-20 of his draft season to remain unsigned for next year but he told last month he "definitely" wants to stay at Essendon.

"I've left it with my management group. They're in some talks at the moment but I just wanted to leave it with them," Laverde said.

"I obviously haven't played a lot of footy this year so I just wanted to get out there and enjoy being back and try and cement a spot in the side.

"Being injured for most of the season it can get a bit annoying on the sidelines and being in the rehab group, so I just really want to get out there instead of worrying about off-field issues."

Signing Laverde would seem a priority for the Bombers, who have 16 players on their list (including rookies) out of contract for next year, as well as the five banned Bombers yet to reveal their plans for next year.

Stand-in captain Brendon Goddard is also out of contract for next year, with Goddard looking for a two-year extension.