This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Former Leeds United man Noel Whelan has told Football Insider that Gaetano Berardi could earn himself a new deal with the Whites by proving his importance to the club in the coming weeks.
Berardi’s current contract expires at the end of this season and the Switzerland international has the opportunity to showcase his talents for Marcelo Bielsa, with regular centre-back Liam Cooper sidelined for a few more weeks.
Whelan said: “I think at the moment it’s about letting Gaetano get on with it then assessing him up until Christmas time.
“We’ve got Liam Cooper out injured and after Berardi’s red card against Millwall was rescinded, he has the opportunity to go out there and put in some performances to earn that new contract from Leeds United as he can prove to the club that he is a player they need.
“To be quite honest, I don’t think he’d be good enough to be a regular for the first-team in the Premier League, I think we’ve seen many teams go up, for example, Villa this season, that have changed both centre-halves as you can bring in new players with that money you get from promotion.
“So I can’t see him being a regular in the first-team if we do get promoted to the Premier League.”
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The 5 foot 10 Berardi has been with Leeds since 2014 and although a regular addition to the squad, the versatile defender has had to settle for a more sporadic role within the starting XI, making only 124 appearances in the Championship over the past five years.
This season, the former Sampdoria man has played four times in the league and twice in the EFL Cup, where he has scored and assisted. However, it’s his form in the Championship that has got doubters like Whelan questioning his capabilities, should the club return to the top-flight.
Upon stepping in for Cooper, Berardi received a red card within 14 minutes of the game against Millwall, and although it was later rescinded, it cannot be forgotten that he has picked up seven red cards for the Whites in just five seasons.
It is no surprise to see both Ben White and Cooper keep him out the side when available, with his erratic nature and lack of defensive stability a worry for the team. Also, the form of the Leeds’ full-backs has kept him away from those spots and Berardi will find it tough to get past Luke Ayling and Ezgjan Alioski.
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Ultimately, should the Whites return to the Premier League, they are going to need proven experience and abilities at such a level. And, although he has played 53 times in Italy’s first tier, the defender was relegated with Brescia in 2011.
Bielsa will need more reinforcements and better quality across his defence in the Premier League and unfortunately, Berardi is not that man.