Dom Howson: Time to go Nando - Why Sheffield Wednesday should cash in on Fernando Forestieri before it is too late
At his devastating best, Fernando Forestieri is a joy to watch.
He lit up in the Championship in his first year at Hillsborough, playing a key role in Wednesday reaching the Play-Off Final at Wembley. When the Owls needed a piece of individual brilliance, Forestieri was the man who more often than not provided it.
“Fernando is an X factor player," said first-team coach Lee Bullen. "When he is on it, he is a Premier League player."
Possibly so, but Forestieri's refusal to play at Norwich City at the start of the 2016/17 season angered a big section of the fanbase and cast a huge shadow over him. His performance levels certainly tailed off and he was in and out of the starting XI after Wednesday recruited Sam Winnall and Jordan Rhodes.
Despite that, Forestieri bagged 12 goals to finish as the Owls' top-scorer for the second year running. His game-changing qualities were undeniable.
But Forestieri has been blighted by injuries and well-documented disiciplinary problems since the back-to-back play-off campaigns.
Every now and again we have seen a glimpse of the 'old' Forestieri. I remember waxing lyrical about Forestieri after his virtuoso display when Wednesday brushed aside Reading at Hillsborough during Jos Luhukay's tenure and after they earned a creditable draw away to Norwich City when Steve Bruce was at the helm.
But the truth of the matter is Forestieri has never reached the heights that he did under Carlos Carvalhal on a consistent basis.
Are Forestieri’s best days behind him? The jury is firmly out on whether he can ever rediscover his best form.
The Charlton Athletic fixture at the end of November epitomised the way things have gone for Forestieri in the past two and a half years. Handed only his second league start and first since Garry Monk’s appointment as manager, Forestieri was forced off at half-time with a knee problem which looks set to keep him out of their festive programme.
In fact, alarm bells were ringing on the eve of the Charlton clash when Barry Bannan, Forestieri’s teammate, accused him of not pulling his weight in training.
“We train day-in, day-out and you've got to work hard in training to get into the team," he said. "It's up to Fernando. We know the quality that he's got, but if you're not working hard in training and not working hard on the pitch, you’re not going to play."
Many Wednesdayites have lost patience with Forestieri and feel it is time for the club to cut their losses and sell him in the January transfer window.
Monk recognises he has an unbalanced squad and one of his top priorities in the New Year will be to trim his forward line.