Leeds defender Gaetano Berardi has thanked the club for offering him a new one-year deal despite his long-term knee injury.
Berardi could be sidelined until next April after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in Leeds’ win at Derby in last season’s penultimate game.
It was a cruel blow for the 32-year-old Swiss, whose previous contract expired in the summer after Leeds had sealed promotion to the Premier League.
“It’s a good feeling,” Berardi told the club’s official website after signing his new deal. “Of course it is not the best situation with me with and the injury and also for the club to sign a player like me in this moment.
“So, it’s a good feeling for me and I’m happy about this and would like to say thank you to the club for this.
“I hope the club felt my contribution to do it and in my opinion this is the biggest motivation.”
Berardi, hugely popular among Leeds fans for his fully committed approach to the game, featured 22 times for the club during their Sky Bet Championship title-winning campaign.
He is currently Leeds’ longest-serving first-team player having made 155 appearances in all competitions since arriving from Sampdoria in the summer of 2014.
“I’m here trying to recover and taking my time, but in my head I’m sure I will be fit in time to have a chance to train with the lads and do my best,” said the right-back, who can also operate in central defence.
“I want to have a big part in the team, playing or not playing, at the moment I’m going my job in a different way and I think the team know this.”
Berardi’s new deal, which keeps him at Elland Road until at least next summer, was announced on the same day left-back Barry Douglas headed out on loan to Blackburn.
Leeds director of football Victor Orta wrote an open letter paying tribute to Douglas, who has struggled to make the left-back position his own since joining from Wolves in 2018 for an undisclosed fee.
Boss Marcelo Bielsa said he had opted to play Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski and Leif Davis ahead of the Scotland international.
“They’re decisions I have to make,” Bielsa said. “For me they have been very difficult. Douglas deserved to play for Leeds and he gave his all to achieve this.
“I wasn’t able to help him enough for him to consolidate himself in our team. He’s a player who has given huge effort and I regret a little bit that he wasn’t able to triumph with us.”