MELBOURNE has secured silky defender Christian Salem to a new two-year contract extension.
Salem was due to fall out of contract at the end of this season, but the newly inked deal will see him remain a Demon until the end of 2019.
The 21-year-old has finally developed continuity in his football this season, after injury and illness restricted him to just eight matches in 2016.
Salem, pick No.9 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, has missed just one game in 2017, due to suspension, and has established himself in a key role across half-back and on the wing.
"There were no concerns about going into the season unsigned from my end," Salem told AFL.com.au.
"I knew my manager (Paul Connors) and the club were going to get it done eventually so it was just a matter of time."
Salem is averaging a career-high 22 disposals this year, with his elite ball use and composure under pressure proving to be an important component of Melbourne's side.
The defender played one of the best games of his career against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday, tallying 23 disposals and kicking an important goal in the third term to break the Dogs' resistance.
But it was Salem's intent to hunt and take the ball off the opposition that stood out, highlighting the intensity the Demons brought to the contest.
A thyroid issue, that first surfaced in 2014, flared again last season forcing Salem to be sidelined for almost two months.
The promising youngster missed a week due to concussion in round seven last season and was again knocked out when his head was driven into the turf while playing for Casey in last year's VFL preliminary final.
In a bizarre set of circumstances, Salem was again concussed when he was hit in the head by a brick during the Demons' army-style pre-season camp prior to Christmas.
"It's been a frustrating couple of years but I'm happy to be back out on the park," Salem said.
"In terms of the thyroid, I'm getting regular blood tests once a month and I'm slowly weening myself off the tablets so we're just making sure that's all under control. At the moment it's going pretty well."
Despite that setback, Salem spent time training with the midfield group during the pre-season and he believes he'll spend more time playing as an onballer in the future.
Salem will inevitably draw comparisons to Greater Western Sydney jet Josh Kelly after the Demons gave up pick No.2 in the 2013 draft in a trade for Dom Tyson.
Melbourne received Tyson and pick No.9 (Salem) in exchange for pick No.2 (Kelly), plus an exchange of later picks, one of them which yielded the Demons in-form speedster Jayden Hunt.
Salem is unfazed by the comparisons between he and close friend Kelly and is determined to carve out a successful career in his own right.
Salem has played 41 career matches since making his debut for Melbourne in round six, 2014.