According to The Athletic’s Phil Hay, there is ‘no doubt’ that Marcelo Bielsa would want Gaetano Berardi to stay at Leeds United for next season.
Berardi is facing an uncertain future at Elland Road as the world waits for football to continue, as the Swiss defender is due to be out of contract this summer and has yet been offered a new deal.
Whites chiefs have held no formal discussions with the 5 ft 10 centre-half to sound out his interest in signing new terms, although the hierarchy in West Yorkshire would be willing to present a new contract so long as the terms suited all parties.
Berardi is currently the club’s tenth-best paid permanent player earning £9,000-per-week, but has featured infrequently during the 2019/20 season with Bielsa only calling on him to start 11 of a possible 37 Championship fixtures to date.
Yet Hay has no reservations over Bielsa wanting Berardi with him next season as while the one-time international rarely starts, he understands the boss’ tactics and system inside out and will still be an asset as a squad player.
Whether the club use the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic to commence discussions with Berardi remains to be seen, as there had been no intentions to hold talks until the end of the season before the outbreak sent shockwaves around the world.
At 31, Berardi still has a few years left in him to play competitively at a suitable standard – but whether that standard includes regular game time in the Premier League? That is up for debate.
Berardi has shown relentlessly over his years at the club that he can be hot-headed having been shown six red cards, three double-yellows and 19 cautions over 150 outings, though his sending off at Millwall earlier this season was overturned following a claim of wrongful dismissal.
His performances defensively when Bielsa has called on the Brescia product to feature in the Championship this term also paint a mixed picture of where he ranks.
Does Berardi deserve a new contract this summer?
Berardi has averaged the same number of successful tackles (1.7) per 90 minutes than Ben White and more than Liam Cooper (1.5), while being dribbled past (0.3) the least, making the most clearances (3.6), and only truly lacks in interceptions (1.9), per WhoScored data, having misplaced fewer short passes (4.5) than our other centre-halves.
But he doesn’t feature anywhere near as much as White (37 starts, 3,330 minutes played) or Cooper (28 starts, 2,491 minutes) and would be nothing more than a squad player again next year should new terms fall in his lap.
In other Leeds United news, a 12-time youth international is reportedly eager to seal a permanent move to Elland Road.