Leeds United should offer Gaetano Berardi a new deal at the earliest
According to The Athletic, Leeds United are yet to initiate contract talks with veteran Swiss defender Gaetano Berardi, with the report suggesting that the Whites are still unsure whether to keep the 31-year-old as a part of their plans moving forward.
Berardi came on as a substitute in the final twelve minutes against Brentford in the mid-week Championship fixture on Wednesday in a bid to shore up the backline, whilst fellow substitute Eddie Nketiah scored the late winner to ensure that Marcelo Bielsa’s side finished match week 4 atop the league standings.
Berardi’s time at Elland Road has been blighted by injuries to a certain degree but the 31-year-old former 1-cap Swiss international has continued to be a key part of the first-team under Bielsa.
Leeds, however, would need to make a call on his future sooner rather than later, with the defender having only 12 months left to run on his current deal at the club.
As things stand, the Whites face the risk of losing Berardi for absolutely nothing next summer, something which is likely to be on the back of Bielsa’s mind.
Berardi’s future, though, might depend on where Leeds play their football next season, with the Whites understood to keep their plans dynamic should they manage to secure promotion to the Premier League.
The 31-year-old, on the other hand, would probably like to see his future sorted out over the coming months.
The versatile defender made only 15 Championship appearances last season and the cameo against Brentford marked his first outing in the league this term, although Berardi started and scored in the 3-0 victory over Salford City in the League Cup.
Berardi rose to prominence with Brescia in Italy and enhanced his reputation in the top-flight at Sampdoria before earning a move to Elland Road in the summer of 2014.
Following his initial struggles in West Yorkshire, the Swiss international gradually established himself as one of the key cogs of the Whites’ backline, whilst also becoming a popular figure amongst the fans.
With Stuart Dallas starting the new season as the first-choice right-back in the absence of Luke Ayling, the 31-year-old currently finds himself down the pecking order in West Yorkshire, although one would expect him to play a more significant role as the campaign wears on.
Berardi is probably not considered as an undisputed starter every week due to his age and injury issues but he continues to be an important squad player at the back, owing to his versatility to slot seamlessly into any position across the defensive line.
Having already lost the services of experienced centre-back Pontus Jansson to Brentford this summer, Leeds should wary of the lack of depth in their defensive options and parting ways with another experienced head like Berardi, who is capable of providing cover in multiple areas at the back, could spell potential disaster for the Whites.
To put things into perspective, Gaetano Berardi has been a wonderful servant to Leeds United and it should be an absolute no-brainer for the Whites to secure his long-term future with a new deal.
Despite his advancing years and injury issues, the 31-year-old is still more than capable of adding a lot to the backline with his experience and versatility and he might as well play a key role should some of the other defenders be forced out of action.
Moreover, Bielsa needs options to rotate his team effectively in the domestic cup competitions and Berardi’s presence should come in handy for that matter.
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Keeping all the aforementioned factors in mind, Leeds United should offer the 31-year-old Swiss veteran a new deal at the earliest.