ESSENDON star Zach Merrett says he is committed to the Bombers and didn't consider requesting a trade this off-season.
Merrett has been the subject of rival interest as unrest at Essendon grew following the club's horror end to the season which saw them win only one of their last 10 games.
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But the two-time best and fairest winner and 2017 All-Australian midfielder categorically ruled out following teammates Joe Daniher, Adam Saad and Orazio Fantasia in leaving the club.
"I'll be playing at Essendon next year. That's as clear as it will be," he told AFL.com.au.
The 25-year-old, who finished second in the Bombers' Crichton Medal this year, said he did not think about leaving Essendon in the aftermath of its bottom-six finish on the ladder.
"I didn't. I'm very much committed to playing at Essendon next year and I'm confident that with the players we've got and the coaches we've got at the moment we can turn it around reasonably quickly and get back up the ladder," he said.
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Merrett will head into 2021 as one of the highest profile free agents in the AFL having been a fixture of Essendon's side since his breakthrough debut season of 2013. But he said he was in no rush to lock in a new deal beyond the end of next season.
"I honestly haven't thought that far ahead. I need time, I'm still reflecting on this year and I'm just keen to get into the next pre-season," he said.
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Merrett has remained in Queensland for more than a month since Essendon's round 18 loss to Melbourne that closed the club's season.
He was a part of the AFL's Footy Festival in Brisbane on Friday ahead of the Gabba Grand Final, and he said there had been time to reflect on the Bombers falling out of the top eight.
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"It's been interesting. When you don't make the eight you're always wondering 'What are we doing wrong? or 'Where are we?'," he said.
"It was an indifferent year which required a bit of perspective on society as well as footy. The guys go out with 'Saady' and Joey but hopefully we bring in some more talent as well that will be able to cover those spots and hopefully move us up the ladder going forward."
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The Bombers have lured Giants youngster Jye Caldwell to the club, with the promising midfielder nominating Essendon as his preferred new home. Merrett says Caldwell's interest in joining the Bombers is "a really good sign".
"He's a talented player and I'm excited to get him across and I'm looking forward to meeting him," he said.