Essendon Bombers star Zach Merrett has signed a long-term deal to remain at the club, ending months of speculation.
The 25-year old midfielder’s contract was set to expire at the end of this season, but he has inked a six-year deal to remain at Windy Hill until at least 2027.
The Bombers reportedly offered Merrett a five-year contract at the end of 2020, but the two-time best and fairest winner was keen to wait to see how the team began the season under new coach Ben Rutten before deciding to stay.
He was re-named in the club’s leadership group at the beginning of the season after being controversially snubbed for John Worsfold’s final year at the helm in 2020. Merrett has been in arguably career-best form as the Bombers have put together an expectations-exceeding season, ranking fourth in the AFL for total inside-50s and averaging 31 disposals per game.
“It’s a privilege to play for the Essendon Football Club and I’m really excited to have agreed to terms on a new deal,” Merrett said in a statement released by the Bombers’ media department.
“There’s no doubt the direction that the club is heading is the most exciting part. We are really clear in where we’re headed under Truck [Ben Rutten], and this new football program is very clearly united and aligned.”
Having previously admitted to the Herald Sun to being open to leaving the club should their on-field struggles to continue, Merrett’s commitment is not only a major boon for Rutten for the years to come, but confirmation he believes the Dons are on the right track.
Merrett’s decision now means the club can turn their attention to re-signing breakout star Darcy Parish, who is in line for All-Australian honours following a move to the midfield.
You can check out the full list of impending free agents here at The Roar.