IT TOOK until the final minutes of the NAB AFL Trade Period, but Essendon has landed star Greater Western Sydney midfielder Dylan Shiel on a six-year deal.
After a week of negotiations following Shiel nominating the Bombers as his preferred home at the start of the trade period, the clubs agreed on the deal just eight minutes before the 8.30pm deadline.
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Essendon gave up two first-round picks – No.9 this year and next year's first-round selection – in return for Shiel and the Giants' second-round pick next year.
List manager Adrian Dodoro said it was a battle to get Shiel over the line before the deadline, but said the club was excited to welcome a quality player to the club.
"It was a bit of a fight there this afternoon," Dodoro laughed.
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"Apologies to the Essendon fans for waiting, but we got there and that's the main thing.
"At the end of the day, he's a quality player and once GWS was able to release some players, they realised they had the capacity to keep him.
"But he had committed to getting to our football club and we had made the commitment to trying to get him. We're really happy that we have, he's a great player."
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Shiel could be the missing piece for the Bombers as they aim to leap up the ladder next year, with the 25-year-old set to be a key plank in their midfield brigade.
The Giants match-winner will add pace, size and power to John Worsfold's side, and his arrival follows three key trades last season when the Bombers landed Jake Stringer, Devon Smith and Adam Saad.
Greater Western Sydney has cleared Shiel's money from its salary cap and now heads into next month's NAB AFL Draft with a strong hand, holding picks No.9, 11 and 19 in the first round.
Shiel played 135 games for the Giants since making his debut in 2012, when he was one of the club's foundation players.
Essendon coach John Worsfold said Shiel is exactly the player the Bombers need.
"We had decided that we wanted to add another quality midfielder to our list and Dylan fit that requirement perfectly," Worsfold told the club's website.
"He has very strong values that align with our team and club values, including a desire to continuously work to improve both on and off the field.
"Dylan is a very hard runner that can win contested ball inside at stoppages but he will also cover the ground and help us link up both offensively and defensively."
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Giants footy boss Wayne Campbell said the club was happy with the return it got for Shiel, even if it was made to wait until the dying moments of the trade period to be completed.
"He's a fantastic player and a fantastic person," Campbell said.
"We're really sad to see him go, but because of that we needed to replace him with some good picks and we think the two first-round picks were probably a reasonable result.
"We thought the discussions between Adrian Dodoro and Jason McCartney were very mature and up front, it never got heated at all. We thought it would get done at some stage, but it took a little bit of time to work through."
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Campbell said Carlton never made an offer for Shiel, saying: "Dylan chose Essendon, so we respected his decision. We were always going to deal with them."
Word spread early on Wednesday that the Blues were preparing to make a play for Shiel, but Carlton list manager Stephen Silvagni said afterwards he never really believed they were in the hunt, despite late speculation on deadline day.
"Essendon always had the front running once Dylan chose them," Silvagni said.
"Generally, when a player nominates a club he gets there – particularly under Paul Connors, who does a terrific job for his clients."
However, Silvagni did reveal the Blues would have offered a future first-round draft pick in order to secure Shiel, saying: "That certainly would have been in the equation."
Dodoro said he was aware of Carlton's late attempts to steal Shiel from his grasp, but said he didn't blame Silvagni for trying his luck in the dying stages of the trade period.
"It really didn't bother us to be honest," Dororo said.
"We knew what our position was and we knew how steadfast he was to get to us.
"There's no doubt SOS was trying to get him. I've got no doubt, knowing SOS. But that's what happens, I would have done the same thing as well.
"We got our man and they didn't."