Although shining no light on the length of the contract they would offer, Demons football manager Alan Richardson told SEN Melbourne were “incredibly keen” to lock in Jackson and relatively confident he would re-sign.
“We think Luke is a fantastic player. We think the potential is enormous for Luke, we don’t think he’s anywhere near his best yet, which is a bit scary given what he’s already done.
“We’ll work through that with TLA management group to make sure that Luke is comfortable and he’s happy.
“It’s pretty obvious that he’s taking a bit of time. We’ve allowed him to do that, we’ve encouraged him to do that to make sure he makes the right decisions for him and for his footy.”
Oliver, however, has been well and truly locked away. The three-time best-and-fairest winner’s contract was not due to expire until the end of next season, but Melbourne were determined to secure the gun midfielder before he entered his free agency year.
The 24-year-old, known affectionately as “Clarry” to his coach and teammates, has made impressive strides since his selection at pick four in the 2015 national draft. He is a vital part of the Dees’ midfield engine room, and is averaging 34 disposals per game this season.
Richardson said securing arguably “the strongest performing player at age 24 in the competition” was not only terrific news for the team, but for the club and fans alike.
“We’re just delighted. He’s an incredibly good player that consistently performs at a high level. To have him signed up for that length of time is just a great result,” Richardson said.
“Clearly with free agency happening for Clayton next year, we were really keen to make sure we knocked that on the head and he was always wanting to be a Melbourne person for the rest of his life.”
Touching on the length of the contract extension, Richardson said it was what clubs needed to do to secure the players they believed to have an X-factor, and he was comfortable with that commitment.
“If you’re going to try to get a player like that out of another footy club, you’re going to pay a lot of money and give a really big, long contract. We’re comfortable doing that with great people and great players like Christian [Petracca] and like Jack Viney and now Clayton Oliver.”
Melbourne list manager Tim Lamb said the club was overjoyed to secure one of the team’s best players in such a mammoth deal.
“We are delighted that Clayton has turned his back on free agency and chosen to commit to the club. It shows the faith he has in our playing group and coaches, and it is huge endorsement of the culture we have built under [coach] Simon [Goodwin],” Lamb told reporters on Thursday morning.
In his 138 games so far, Oliver has averaged 29 disposals and six clearances. His list of accolades is substantial, including two All-Australian selections and the AFL Coaches Association award for best player throughout the 2021 season.
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