Noel Whelan has claimed this will be Gaetano Berardi’s final season at Leeds United.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Whites striker insisted the versatile defender will get a chance to bring down the curtain on his Elland Road career with game time at the end of the season.

But Whelan regards Berardi, 32, as a Championship-level player and not one capable of making a big impact in the Premier League.

The one-time Switzerland international is out of contract at the end of this season after being handed a one-year extension last summer despite suffering a devastating knee injury.

He is yet to play this term but is on the comeback trail after returning to light training outdoors.

As reported by the Athletic’s Phil Hay, there is no extension clause in Berardi’s new contract, meaning there will have to be fresh negotiations if he is to stay past the summer.

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Asked if there was a chance of Berardi staying at Leeds, Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: No. Let’s be honest now, with the injury that he got, if he wasn’t injured he probably would have found another club and be playing week in, week out, because he can still play at Championship level or abroad.

“I think the club did the right thing, we stuck by him and he stayed, he’s got fit, he’s recovered and given the opportunity, he might have a little bit of game time this season.

“Once we’re safe, I can only see younger players getting a chance, your Berardis getting a chance and, the way things have gone this season with injuries and strains and people in and out the side, you need players now.

“We can’t afford to let anyone go and I’m sure he will be used at some point in the season but I do believe that this will be his last season at Leeds United and I do believe it’s going to be a lot of people’s last season at Leeds United.”

In other news, Leeds United are working on a blockbuster new deal that’s a “foregone conclusion”.