Former England international Kevin Phillips has suggested that Leeds United may have held preliminary talks with Gaetano Berardi over a new contract.
Berardi had met with club chiefs earlier in the season to discuss his on-going future at Elland Road, but negotiations were put on hold in October as the club took up a ‘wait-and-see’ position with Premier League football potentially in store next term.
Much of whether Berardi is in West Yorkshire to help our efforts in the top-flight, or Championship, in 2020/21 will depend on his form and involvement in Marcelo Bielsa’s plans this season, having been mostly relied on as the third-choice centre-half behind Ben White and captain Liam Cooper thus far.
Bielsa turned to Berardi against Middlesbrough last week with White stepping into midfielder in the absence of Kalvin Phillips, and Phillips is sure that the Brescia Calcio product produced a top account for himself as we won 1-0.
“Berardi had a super game [against Middlesbrough],” Phillips told Football Insider. “When you get to this stage of the season most clubs will say ‘let’s get the season finished’, but there might be some talks [over a new contract]. I do not know.
Does Berardi deserve a new contract?
“They will not sway from what they are trying to achieve and that is promotion. They will want everyone focused on that because the deals will take care of themselves at the end of the season and I am sure that will be the case.”
While Phillips was impressed with Berardi against Boro, it did not account for much in the grand scheme of things, as the long-time Switzerland youth international found himself cast back to a reserve role against Hull on Saturday with Phillips returning to the line-up.
If Bielsa continues to omit Berardi before the season is over and we do secure promotion into the Premier League, it would be rather surprising to then see the 31-year-old awarded a new contract.
Berardi has started just ten of a possible 36 Championship fixtures this term and made six further outings from the bench, while his outing against Middlesbrough was his first league appearance of the calendar year.
Another season of Championship football could be the only thing that sees Berardi stay at Elland Road beyond the current campaign, as Bielsa would certainly want players he can rely on more frequently in the Premier League.