Of all the players who were washed in as a tidal wave of signings sanctioned by former owner Massimo Cellino, Gaetano Berardi is the only one to not be washed back out to sea. He’s stood the test of time at Elland Road. More importantly, though, he’s loved by the fans. In a ‘postbag’ article by Phil Hay of The Athletic, he [Hay] says that a new deal for the one-time Swiss international depends on how this season pans out.
An earlier report from Football Insider, and their writer Wayne Veysey, suggested that Berardi wanted to stay at the Whites and wanted a new deal. He wrote that Berardi is: “keen to commit to a long-term Leeds United deal” as the one-time Switzerland international “wants to finish his career at Elland Road.”
However, Hay’s Athletic article somewhat tempers that and adds a more cautionary tone to proceedings. For Hay, it is also about what Berardi wants but the urgency isn’t as glowing as what Football Insider’s Veysey writes it to be.
Berardi joined Leeds United from Sampdoria for what was essentially a ‘peanuts fee’. Since then the combative defender has won over Whites fans with his blood-and-guts style of defending. His ‘side before self’ attitude was no more present than in his decision to not join the ‘Sicknote Six’. This group were half-a-dozen of Cellino’s first-season purchases who cried off injured before the Charlton game in 2015.
Hay adds that it is likely that the club will offer a short-term ‘bridging’ deal to cover from the end of June to a projected mid-July season end date. After that, well the decision, it seems, is Berardi’s and it is a decision dependent on the division the Whites find themselves in.
Hay writes that both Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa want Berardi to stay but he also adds that the popular defender has been tempted at times by a return to Italy and Italian football. Hay states: “the offer for Premier League football would be very attractive [for Berardi],” before tempering it with the warning of, “another year in the Championship maybe not so much.”
What will reassure Whites fans is Hay’s closing comment to the fan question that was posed to him. That answer? Well, that it wasn’t in Berardi’s nature to just walk away on June 30 with his official time at the club up.
|The guy bleeds Leeds United.
He’s a good utility option.
No, not this time.
Time to let him fly.