ESSENDON defender Adam Saad has chosen Carlton as his future home.
AFL.com.au understands Saad informed the Bombers and his teammates of his wish to head across town and join the Blues from next season on Tuesday, with both clubs later confirming his decision.
He will accept a five-year deal at the Blues.
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Up until recent days the Bombers had remained hopeful in securing the out-of-contract defender but he has indicated he wants to join Carlton who edged out North Melbourne for his services.
A trade will now need to be facilitated between the two arch-rivals.
It is another significant recruitment for the Blues, who have already won a commitment from Giants restricted free agent Zac Williams to join the club ahead of 2021.
"We put forward a significant offer to Adam and we are disappointed in his decision to pursue a playing future elsewhere," Essendon's list manager Adrian Dodoro said.
"Although we wish Adam all the best, he is not a free agent and therefore a suitable trade will need to be forthcoming from Carlton. Clearly, there is an expectation of compelling compensation for a player of Adam’s calibre.
"We will remain in contact with Adam’s management over the course of the upcoming AFL Trade Period."
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Saad, 26, was considering a move to Carlton at the end of the 2017 season before deciding on the Bombers when returning home to Victoria following two years at Gold Coast.
Talks with the Bombers regarding a new long-term deal for Saad had stalled in recent months and, despite receiving an offer of up to five years, he has decided his future lies away from Tullamarine.
AFL.com.au first flagged uncertainty over Saad's future at the Bombers in the Trade Desk in early September.
"We can confirm that Adam Saad has today notified us of his commitment to join the Carlton Football Club," Blues head of football Brad Lloyd said.
"Adam has officially requested a trade and we will now work with the Essendon Football Club and Adam’s management to finalise the deal.
"We welcome Adam’s decision and at this stage will not be providing any further comment."
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Saad had sought clarity on his role at the Bombers under new coach Ben Rutten after being forced to play as a lockdown defender in the latter stages of 2020.
He also questioned the future direction of the club.
His decision is a further blow for the Bombers who lost Saad's fellow half-back Conor McKenna after he opted to return home to Ireland last month.
Free agent Joe Daniher is also weighing up his future, while contracted forward Orazio Fantasia is contemplating a move to South Australia.
Last October, a deal taking ruckman Andrew Phillips from Carlton to Essendon was the first trade completed between Carlton and Essendon since Justin Murphy crossed to the Bombers in exchange for Cory McGrath in 2003.
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The Blues currently have picks 7, 27 and 45 in the early rounds of this year's NAB AFL Draft.
After several years of salary cap underspend, the Blues have been able to splash the cash on pursuing players from rival clubs.
Under AFL rules, if a club spends as little as 95 per cent in its cap in one season, it has three years to spend up to, and no more than, 105 per cent.
It was a key reason in the Blues heavily front-ended Jack Martin's long-term contract in 2020 and allowed them to chase – but fail to land – Sydney's Tom Papley and Greater Western Sydney's Stephen Coniglio.
The Blues have also gone a recent re-signing spree including key names Marc Murphy and Levi Casboult for next season as well as Jacob Weitering (2025), Sam Docherty, Lachie Plowman, Zac Fisher (2023) and Caleb Marchbank (2022).