During an interview with MOT Leeds News, Leeds United have been backed to sign Gaetano Berardi by Paul Robinson. The former goalkeeper thinks the club could explore a potential deal to bring the ageing defender back to Elland Road amid the current injury crisis.
“Depending on his condition, depending on how fit he is and where he is and what he’s been doing for the last couple of months, he could be an option. He’s somebody who knows the club, knows the players and knows the manager.”, Robinson told MOT Leeds United.
Gaetano Berardi: A Cult Hero At Leeds United
Gaetano Berardi’s relationship with Leeds United stretches way back to 2014 when he joined the club in a €100k move from Sampdoria. Over the years, the defender had been a crucial part of the club’s defensive unit, featuring in a total of 157 competitive matches.
Under Marcelo Bielsa, his role in the first team did diminish slowly, but it was largely due to his ageing nature as well as his injury issues. Even then, the Swiss had a vital part to play in the club’s charge for promotion during the 2019/20 campaign, with the 33-year-old often stepping in the absence of any of the first-choice options in Ben White, Luke Ayling or Liam Cooper.
Berardi’s commitment, loyalty and devotion to the side had made him a cult hero at Elland Road. The right-back did only feature in just two Premier League matches last term, but he did receive a memorable farewell and will be etched into the club’s history as one of the most influential players in the modern era.
Should Leeds United Re-sign Berardi?
Re-signing Gaetano Berardi could be a desperate attempt on Leeds United’s part to bail out a defensive unit that has struggled with discipline, form and injuries in these early parts of the campaign.
Indeed, both Diego Llorente and Robin Koch remain out injured while Pascal Struijk’s three-match red card suspension affecting the club badly. Moreover, neither of Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling or Stuart Dallas has managed to find their form so far.
It does accentuate the need for a new defender, who can provide some much-needed depth in the defensive unit. Berardi fits the bill perfectly as he can operate at right-back and centre-back, giving solid back-up to the likes of Cooper and Ayling.
However, signing the 33-year-old will be a step in the wrong direction for the club. His return to the club will block the first-team passage for many of the young talents in the academy, including the exciting Charlie Cresswell.
Bielsa, therefore, should look to take a gamble with the young guns and build the base for the future, rather than bringing back Berardi into the fray – a defender who is ageing and has had difficulties with injuries in the past.