ANALYSIS By Harry Sykes
With Leeds United on the verge of signing Cameron Borthwick-Jackson from Manchester United, Gaetano Berardi is facing demotion once the new season is in full swing.
The Switzerland international is in line to start Leeds’ Championship opener against Bolton on Sunday as he continues in the left-back role in which he adapted so seamlessly in the second half of last season.
A right-back by trade, Berardi played the best football of his Elland Road career on the opposite side of the defence to firmly cement his cult hero status on the terraces.
Even when 2015-16 Leeds player of the year Charlie Taylor was fit again, Berardi was in most of the starting line-ups selected by Garry Monk.
But the 28-year-old fans favourite may soon have to make way for a player eight years his younger.
As revealed by Football Insider, Leeds will pay penalties to Premier League giants United if Borthwick-Jackson does not play regularly during his imminent loan.
The Championship club have agreed to pay the entirety of Borthwick-Jackson’s £12,000-a-week wages for the upcoming campaign, but they will also stump up more cash in penalties if the young defender does not get regular game time.
A clause of this kind is an increasingly common feature of modern loans as the rich and powerful aim to ensure their rising stars get the chance to develop and learn.
United were also stung last season, when Borthwick-Jackson’s loan to Wolves turned sour as he spent most of the campaign on the sidelines before cutting the spell short to return to his parent club.
With the England Under-20 international also increasing the home-grown quota at Leeds following the summer foreign invasion, manager Thomas Christiansen will doubtless view him as his eventual first choice.
Berardi, the epitome of heart-on-the-sleeve commitment, will surely regard this as a challenge he will look to meet head on.
He knows no other way.
In other Leeds United news, the Yorkshire giants have ramped up their interest in signing one of the best left-backs in the Championship.