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LEEDS, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25:  Gaetano Berardi of Leeds United rides a tackle from Matty Cash of Nottingham Forest during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Nottingham Forest at Elland Road on January 25, 2017 in Leeds, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The Unsung Hero Of West Yorkshire: Why Leeds United Must Give More Credit To This Versatile Defender

There is something special in the way Leeds United’s players have discharged their duties so far in the Sky Bet Championship, for they have thoroughly appeared to be a side with a bunch of highly performing assets on every frontier. Right from the resilience of Robert Green between the sticks to Pablo Hernandez’s creativity down the middle to the flamboyance of Chris Wood right up front, the Whites can boast of possessing immense quality in their ranks.

One of such stunning personnel which Garry Monk has had the luxury of using as a perfect utility player is the veteran full-back in the shape of Gaetano Berardi. The 28-year-old is undergoing a sensational campaign with the West Yorkshire based club, clocking 2.3 tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 4.3 clearances 0.4 blocks per game (on an average) and has been a massive contributor in the resurrection of his employers. But sadly, his heroics have gone unnoticed more often than not.

A horrible hamstring injury occurred to Berardi in the opening day defeat at the hands of Queens Park Rangers in the second tier of English football but he made a comeback in an intriguing manner to hand the former Swansea City manager a thoroughly versatile player who could ply his trade on the right-back as well as the left-back slot. In the absence of Charlie Taylor owing to an injury, the former Sampdoria star stepped into the shoes of the left-back quite meticulously. On Taylor’s return in the Peacocks’ remarkable 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Elland Road, Berardi was engineered on his predominant right-back slot and he was equally effective there as well.

His displays have been sound, for he has been prolific in dealing with the one-vs-one situations, draws the team forward from the flanks and draws a perfect balance between his attacking as well as defensive endeavours. Monk should indeed be counting his blessings, for he has someone in his ranks who can make the opponents go on the back foot and can be assured that the defensive expectations would not be hindered. And who is still in awe of the goal-mouth clearance of the Swiss against the Seagulls?

With the likes of Wood bagging all the limelight, very little of the same has been offered to the resounding calibre which Berardi has shown time and again. He has been a silent guardian more than anything else, who has been calmly meeting his yardsticks and cementing his role under Monk. Leeds United are creating a core team for the upcoming season and without any shadow of a doubt, the full-back would continue to play an instrumental role irrespective of whether his side gets promoted or not.

Statistics Credits: WhoScored.

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