Many Leeds United fans have been praising Gaetano Berardi on social media, after being left impressed by the defender’s performance in Monday night’s FA Cup Third Round defeat to Arsenal.
Berardi has not often been favoured by head coach Marcelo Bielsa this season, with the one-time Switzerland international playing just four minutes of Championship football since the 3-3 draw with Cardiff City last month.
The Bluebirds affair on December 14 was also only Berardi’s ninth inclusion in a league opening line-up from a possible 26 this term, but the 31-year-old received Bielsa’s backing at the Emirates Stadium.
He joined Ben White in the centre of a four-man backline partnered by Barry Douglas on the left and produced a tidy, yet unspectacular, first 45 minutes, though the second half saw the Gunners begin to cause Berardi greater issues.
An incident in the 64th-minute with Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette earned the attention of the Video Assistant Referee, who deemed the collision inside the Whites’ area not to be worthy of a penalty.
The VAR also deemed a later collision between Lacazette and Berardi not to be worthy of a straight red card, after the French forward was seen kicking out at the defender.
But for Berardi’s occasional low moments, including seeing the ball inadvertently deflect off him and into the path of Reiss Nelson to score the only goal of the game, the 2020-free agent had some high moments, too.
Does Berardi deserve a new contract?
For some fans, not reacting to Lacazette’s kick was a high moment of the match for Berardi, given his previous disciplinary record with five reds and three double yellow cards in 147 club appearances.
Berardi also took possession with one of his two tackles at the Emirates on Monday night, while penning three interceptions, three clearances, one shot and an 88% pass competition rate – the third-best of the match with 53 of his 60 passes finding a teammate, per WhoScored data.
While Berardi lost both of his aerial duels, he did block one shot, won two of three ground duels, never committed a foul and found a teammate with five of his eight long passes, according to Sofa Score statistics.
Here are some of the messages shared as fans shared their thoughts on Berardi’s performance…
Think Berardi has found his level #lufc
— RichieRich (@AMitherer) January 6, 2020
— Jackson (@Jacko__LUFC) January 6, 2020
Come be honest berardi has been outstanding
— Brad (@lufc75kb) January 6, 2020
Proud with our performance tonight, a tip of the hat for Berardi who was brilliant all night #lufc
— Burnholme Pete ⚽️ (@StringofBeads) January 6, 2020
Really proud of that. Second half Arsenal showed us the difference in standard, we mostly stood up to it well. Again impressed with Berardi, Stevens will easily replace Clarke eon my opinion #ARSLEE #LUFC
— Wardy (@WardyAJ) January 6, 2020
Although we lost our shape a bit in the second half we still defended really well against a very dangerous Arsenal attack. Berardi and Ayling were excellent. No shame in that result and that first half performance was beautiful. #lufc
— Tasker (@Mr_Tasker) January 6, 2020
Berardi showed tonight why he deserves a new contract.
— BecchioWellPlaced (@RyanLUFC91) January 6, 2020
— George Spivey (@geore_spivey) January 6, 2020
In other Leeds United news, the club have named their price for an in-demand 24-year-old, set to leave Elland Road in January.