By Craig Scott

22nd May, 2020 | 6:00pm

Phil Hay suggests defender exit might be on the cards if Leeds fail to win promotion

Gaetano Berardi might be more inclined to quit Leeds United at the end of the season if the club fails to win promotion, according to Phil Hay.

The Athletic journalist has reported that Leeds are expected to agree a short-term contract extension with the 31-year-old defender, whose current deal is due to expire on June 30.

As the season is likely to continue past the end of June, well into July and potentially further, the onus is on the Whites to secure Berardi for as long as they need him by either offering him a new contract or extending his agreement until the final nine Championship matches are played.

However what happens once that short-term extension expires is anyone’s guess as Hay claims that if Leeds do not win promotion to the Premier Lague, the former Sampdoria defender might decide his time at Elland Road is over.

It is understood that Leeds and manager Marcelo Bielsa want Berardi to sign new terms but whether or not the player himself wants to depends on what league the Whites will be playing in once this season concludes.

“In a scenario where the last nine games are played, those fixtures won’t be completed before Berardi’s contract ends on June 30. My understanding is that as the first port of call, he and the club will agree a short-term extension to cover the remaining matches. It won’t be a problem. After that, a more substantial renewal might depend on which division Leeds are in,” Hay wrote on The Athletic website.

“The club and Bielsa want Berardi to stay, that much has become clear. At points in Berardi’s career in England he’s been tempted to go back to Italy (particularly after the 2017-18 season) but the offer for Premier League football would be very attractive. Another year in the Championship maybe not so much. But no-one expects him to walk out on June 30 with the season ongoing. It’s not in his nature.”

Hay has offered quite a mixed bag of news regarding Berardi here.

It is great that he is likely to stay and help Leeds see out the season and, hopefully, play a role in the club winning promotion back to the Premier League.

Berardi’s only made 171 appearances in the Championship this season but 13 of those have resulted in wins for the Yorkshire giants as the one-time Swiss international has played a crucial role as a back-up defender.

Berardi is also a firm fan favourite who we would love to see causing mayhem in the Premier League.

The odds are in Leeds’ favour in terms of promotion so hopefully that means they are also in favour of Berardi staying on at Elland Road for another year.

In other Leeds United news, the club could have a new shirt sponsor next season.