Leeds United are reportedly intending not to renew the contract of defender Gaetano Berardi, who is out of contract in the summer.
The defender has been at the club since 2014 and is one of the club’s current longest-serving players. The defender has been used throughout his Elland Road career as a utility defender, deputising in a variety of positions across the defensive line.
While he has been used in the same capacity in his tenure at Leeds, his career got off to the worst possible start with two red cards in his first four appearances for the Whites. Since then, his performances have yielded a bit more consistency but his discipline has still been a major issue for Leeds.
Football Insider are now reporting that Leeds are opting against renewing his contract, which is set to run out at the end of the season.
Here, we take a look at two pros and two cons of Leeds’ stance on the Swiss defender’s contract…
Pro: He’s a liability
The main issue with Berardi’s performance in a Leeds shirt has been his lack of discipline throughout his career. The defender has been given eight red cards since signing in 2014, with the most recent one coming in Leeds’ 2-1 defeat to Millwall back in September. Even though this red card was correctly overturned, it still highlighted Berardi’s abysmal disciplinary record.
Had the red card against Millwall stood, Berardi would have broken the record for the most red cards for a Leeds United player with eight, which is astounding for a player who has been at the club for five seasons.
Con: He’s very versatile
The main reason that Berardi has lasted so long at Elland Road and why he continues to be used by each manager that comes in the door is his great versatility in defence.
Berardi has played in every position in the defensive line over his five seasons at Leeds and has shown that he has quality in all of those spots. Despite being right-footed, he has shown that he can operate on the left just as well as he can on the right.
Centre-back has been his main role under Marcelo Bielsa over the last 18 months, and while he is not blessed with great height, his physicality has shown he can operate there to cover for an injury.
Pro: It leaves room for a replacement
If Leeds were to move on Berardi, it would pave the way for the Whites to replace him with someone of guaranteed quality, especially if they are to achieve their goal of promotion to the Premier League.
Leeds are looking to be in the Premier League next season, so they would certainly need to upgrade some players in their squad, with the centre-back position being one of the priorities.
While Berardi has shown that he does have something to offer in this Leeds side in the Championship, the Premier League would definitely be a step too far.
Con: He offers leadership
Being one of the older players in the squad and one of the longest-serving too, Berardi has a great presence off the pitch that would be hard to replace for the club.
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The current Leeds crop is a very young one and the more experience in the squad the better, especially given the high-pressure scenario of trying to achieve automatic promotion at the second time of asking.
Speaking after Berardi’s red card against Millwall, Bielsa heaped praise on Berardi when he told Leeds Live: “You have to analyse if he’s a violent player or if he’s an accelerated player. Berardi is a loyal player and he gives everything on the pitch. When you give everything on the pitch, the players can arrive late, but you have to analyse every red card. Maybe the red today is different to another.”
It is very hard to replace a player who has these qualities in the squad and Leeds would be in a position where they would have to do so, especially given the lack of depth Leeds have at the back.