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Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi was spotted at Thorp Arch this week as he made his long-awaited return to first team training. The 32-year-old had been forced out of action by an ACL injury, which caused him to miss 204 days and 26 games for the Whites last season, according to Transfer market.
He has also not made a single appearance this season and his task of returning to the team has been much more difficult after Leeds recruited new defensive options in the summer.
Should Marcelo Bielsa sign a new contract?
Nevertheless, fans are delighted to see the return of Berardi to training and they hope that it will be the beginning of his integration again in Marcelo Bielsa’s team. However, it’s not as simple as going back to training and fighting for your spot in the lineup.
Already plagued with a long history of injuries, the risk of another problem is high. Not only that, Berardi pushes 33 and will be out of contract with the whites this summer. Just imagine, no new terms have been discussed due to the extent of the defender’s injury, but with less than six months to go, would submitting a new offer be of much use?
While injuries, specifically on the baseline, have plagued Leeds this season, they have still managed to come through. Bielsa’s quick thinking and the versatility of players like Luke Ayling may have saved his season. With Robin Koch and Diego Llorente injured, it looked like a disaster for the team returning from the Premier League.
However, they are currently in a respectable 10th place in the table as they head to their showdown with Arsenal tonight. This team from Leeds is a tight-knit unit that has made it back to the top. Berardi played a small role in his campaign to win promotion, before he was injured towards the end, but he was never a regular with Bielsa.
In fact, the Swiss missed a total of 22 matches simply by staying on the bench or off the squad entirely. Leeds have established that they have adapted and then some without the influence of Berardi and while Bielsa will be glad the recovery went well, having him as an option will not mean too much to him down the stretch this season.
In other news, Leeds must prioritize a permanent move for Jack Harrison this summer …