Essendon boss responds to player exodus as stars queue up to leave

Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell has commented on the impending departure of several key stars as the Bombers face an off-season of turmoil.

Another disappointing season saw them miss the finals and players such as Adam Saad, Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia have all indicated their desire to leave Tullamarine.

Essendon reportedly offered Saad — who has finished in the top three of the club’s best-and-fairest the past two years — a whopping five-year deal worth $700,000 a season, but he still wants to go to Carlton.

“It was a surprise and it’s disappointing that we’re in that position. It did get very difficult towards the end (of the season),” Campbell told SEN Breakfast. “I think Adam found the hub difficult.

“We would have loved for him to take a bit more time to make his decision, but he didn’t, and he’s made that decision and we have to respect that and get the best trade possible for the football club to drive that improvement.

“I think part of (the reason for leaving) was positional, I think part of it was culture, I think that hub experience was very difficult for him so it was a multitude of factors but they’re questions you’ll have to ask Adam.”

Ex-Essendon star Brendon Goddard also weighed in on Saad’s exit, telling AFL Trade Radio the 26-year-old “felt like he was being singled out in terms of the feedback and the coaches were too harsh on him”.

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A lucrative offer couldn’t convince Saad to stay.Source:News Corp Australia

Joe Daniher wants a change.Source:News Corp Australia

Tall forward Daniher — who has only played 15 games in the past three seasons — wants to join Brisbane and goalsneak Fantasia is keen to head home to South Australia, with reports suggesting he will end up at Port Adelaide.

“I thought we got to a position where Joey was really close to staying,” Campbell said.

“I think the length of time it took for him to make that decision is a reflection that we got much closer than people think to him saying at the football club.

“Raz (Fantasia) has had that pull home for a number of years now and he’s got a really tight family and it’s absolutely understandable.”

Adding to Essendon’s woes, the club sacked football department boss Dan Richardson on Thursday. The disruption comes as Ben Rutten officially takes over from John Worsfold as head coach.

Campbell told SEN Breakfast Essendon doesn’t have a candidate in mind to replace Richardson, but will search for “a strong and experienced leader, ideally with some diversity in their background and their experiences”.

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