Marcelo Bielsa highlights importance of Gaetano Berardi as Leeds United defender faces up to long spell out

MARCELO BIELSA has hailed the importance of Gaetano Berardi on and off the football pitch as the Leeds United defender faces up to nine months out.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 26th July 2020, 3:44 pm

Berardi's season in ended in heartache with the 31-year-old falling awkwardly during the first half of last Sunday's 3-1 win at Derby County with the defender clearly in pain and needing to be stretchered off.

Berardi then had scans the following day which confirmed that the former Switzerland international had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and would subsequently be sidelined for up to nine months.

Berardi's injury came with the defender's Whites contract about to expire with Berardi's initial deal ending at the end of June.

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WARRIOR: The injured Gaetano Berardi, centre, celebrates Leeds United's Championship title triumph with team-mates Kalvin Phillips, left, and Gjanni Alioski. Picture by Tim Goode/PA Wire.

With the season extended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Berardi then signed a new deal that ran until the end of the current campaign which for Leeds concluded with Wednesday night's 4-0 cruise at home to Charlton Athletic.

Asked if he would like Berardi to stay at the club even if he was injured, Whites head coach Bielsa hailed the importance of the centre-back or full-back who made 25 appearances for the Whites during the present campaign, helping Leeds seal a return to the Premier League as Championship champions.

"Berardi, for all of us, is an example," said Bielsa.

"Don’t think the fact I say he is an example, I don’t value his football characteristics.

"The 30 minutes he played in the last match was one of the best performances he had in two years.

"In the social life of the team, he is very important and I imagine Berardi is the person you have to ask what we should do.

"Sometimes I considered asking him when I had doubts.

"Of course my job is to make decisions and I had more doubt than certainty.

"More than once I had this feeling to take advice from him."

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Thank you Laura Collins