Gaetano Berardi has returned to Leeds United training after the best part of a year on the sidelines with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Now, footage of the Swiss ace walking back on the pitch has surfaced on social media – as the countdown begins to see the Leeds icon make his Premier League debut.
Berardi, 32, has been sidelined since the end of the Championship campaign. Following promotion already being secured, Leeds beat Derby County 3-1 with Berardi snapping his knee ligaments in that win. It was a blow for the one-time Switzerland man – who was out of contract that summer, but was given a reprieve.
Indeed, Andrea Radrizzani handed the defender a one-year extension on his current deal to keep until June 2021. Now, the ex-Sampdoria man is back and while he will have his sights on the first team – especially with Diego Llorente and Robin Koch sidelined – he is expected to play for the club’s Under-23 side in the coming weeks. They play on Monday against Reading.
Marcelo Bielsa spoke of how happy he was to have Berardi back in training in his pre-match Arsenal press conference on Friday, especially given that Berardi is one of the club’s longest-serving players along with captain Liam Cooper and star midfielder Kalvin Phillips. He joined the club seven years ago and has eclipsed 150 appearances for the Yorkshire side.
It remains to be seen if Berardi can still offer anything to the Leeds side on the pitch, perhaps as cover to Luke Ayling and a good option from the bench given his versatility across the back line. But his impact is likely to be in the changing room more than anything else – even if his future at the club is up in the air. Footage of him walking into training has emerged on Twitter.