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Leeds Season (so far) Ratings: Gaetano Berardi

In terms of being a “backup”, he has had a fantastic season.

Stoke City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One-time Switzerland international Gaetano Berardi was never going to be in Marcelo Bielsa’s first choice XI this season, for someone in that situation he has been excellent.

Going in to the season, the vast majority of Leeds United fans were certain that we needed another centre-back, because the prevailing wisdom was that having right-backs Berardi and Luke Ayling (plus U23s) would not be enough to get through the season. The vast majority of Leeds fans, including me, were wrong.

Liam Cooper has had a few injuries this season, and when he has been out Berardi has been really good. A sign of this has been that he has been able to keep his place for a couple of games when Cooper has been available. He isn’t as good on the ball as Ben White or Cooper but he has really improved in that regard this season - passing the ball out from the back when under pressure in a way we wouldn’t have seen from him before this season.

In the Championship, Berardi has started eleven games, and come off the bench in six, Leeds have only lost one of these games. That defeat came away at Millwall when Berardi was sent off and had a penalty given against him for the tackle - that red card was rescinded as it was a clear dive from Tom Bradshaw, he did make an error with the initial poor header but he has not made many errors this season. He even got a rare goal away at Salford City in the League Cup.

BEST PERFORMANCE

Stoke City (A) - He hasn’t had any games this season that were absolutely outstanding but he has had many good ones. Against Stoke he was very good. Defended well, passed the ball well, won the majority of his aerial duels which is his biggest weakness as a centre-back due to his height. Played well enough that when Liam Cooper came back in to the side against Swansea next time out, some people were disappointed.

WORST PERFORMANCE

Cardiff (H) - Was a part of Leeds calamitous ending to the 3-3 draw with Cardiff, although when Pascal Struijk came on for him the U23 regular was far worse. His biggest issue in this match was that he played some really poor passes which put Leeds under needless pressure.

SEASON (so far) RATING

I said when giving Illan Meslier a high score that your score goes up a bit if you have exceeded the expectations I had pre-season, Berardi has certainly done that. He has proved himself to be an able back-up as a centre-back and I feel he has earned a one-year extension to his contract for next season regardless of which division we are in. Never going to be first choice but a useful player in the squad. 7/10