Gaetano Berardi is likely to be handed a new deal by Leeds United as long as he can prove his fitness.
That is according to ex-Leeds right-back Danny Mills, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after footage emerged on Twitter that showed the 32-year-old defender returning to training last Friday.
Berardi has been sidelined for close to a year after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in Leeds’ promotion-winning game against Derby County in July 2020.
Bienvenido a la Premier League Gaetano Berardi 👊🏻⚔️🦁 pic.twitter.com/6PwTEbi8pQ
— Leeds United ARG🇦🇷💛💙 (@Leeds_argentina) February 12, 2021
Berardi, the club’s longest-serving player, was handed a one-year contract extension at the outset of the season despite his injury problems.
Mills hailed the fan-favourite, saying he has a part to play for Bielsa’s side as long as he can prove his body can cope with the physical demands of the Premier League.
“I saw the club put something out on social media of him running around the training ground,” he told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams.
“He’s delighted to be back. He’s been fantastic for the club. I think from the outside, people think he’s just all about red cards and sendings offs but he’s actually a lot better than that.
“He filled in several times in the Championship in different positions and has been a real good club man in the last few years. Being on the bench, playing several different positions, putting in good performances.
“I think they’ll take a look at it and see how fit he gets between now and the end of the season. They’ll see if he’s up to the rigours of the Premier League, and if he is, with the injuries they’ve had this season, especially to their new additions at centre-half, they may well offer him another short-term deal.
“It all depends on his fitness but it looks like he’s been working hard. If he gets himself right, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t offer him a new deal.
“As we’ve seen with Covid and everything that comes with it, sometimes it’s best to keep hold of what you’ve got rather than trying to get people in from elsewhere.”
Mills’ verdict is at odds with that of another Leeds-supporting pundit, with Noel Whelan telling Football Insider last week he expects the club to let Berardi go this summer.
Berardi began his career with Brescia in Italy where he played 146 times before moving to Sampdoria in 2012.
There he spent two seasons, helping Samp win promotion to Serie A before joining Leeds in 2014.