Former Leeds striker Noel Whelan has tipped defender Gaetano Berardi to secure a new contract with the club beyond the end of this season.

Excluding loanees, Berardi is the only member of Leeds’ senior squad who is set to see his deal at Elland Road expire at the conclusion of the current campaign, leading to questions about his future at the club.

However, The Athletic’s Leeds reporter Phil Hay has recently suggested that Berardi could be given a new deal by the Whites, something Whelan believes should happen, considering the service the defender has given the club during his time at Elland Road.

Speaking to Football Insider about the prospect of a new Leeds contract for Berardi, Whelan said: “He has been a big part of this season and a big part of the club for five years now. He deserves an opportunity in the Premier League.”

Whelan also appears to feel that Berardi himself would be keen to put to paper on an extended deal at Elland Road, as he continued“His game time will probably be limited but he has been happy where he is living. That comes into play and he might be comfortable as a bit-player throughout a season, playing in cup matches. 

“Sometimes you do not want upheaval when you have family and children. 

“He also loves the club, a great servant and nobody would grumble if he signed another contract to play in the Premier League next year. He has earned it.”

Since joining Leeds from Sampdoria in the summer of 2014, Berardi has made exactly 150 appearances in all competitions for the Whites, scoring twice.

Despite the fact that he has shown himself to be susceptible to making some costly errors on occasion this season, the centre back is still a popular figure at Elland Road, and you imagine a new deal to keep him around as a backup for next season would go down well with the club’s fanbase.

Indeed, with Ben White only on loan this season, losing Berardi as well this summer would leave Leeds needing significant reinforcement at centre back ahead of their return to the Premier League.

Given the financial implications of football’s current suspension, that is something that may not be for a club such as Leeds to do, meaning keeping Berardi at Elland Road could be a more sensible approach for the Whites to take.