Fernando Forestieri – A Sheffield Wednesday love story that could have been epic…
There’s been talk of it happening, there was talk of him selling his house, but now it’s confirmed – Fernando Forestieri will be leaving Sheffield Wednesday, and he’ll be going for free.
In the promotion push season of 2015/16, ‘Fessi’ endeared himself to the Wednesday faithful in a way that not many have since the days of Benito Carbone. His tenacity, his ability, his goals. The diminutive Argentine looked to be on the way to writing his name in club history.
The man from Rosario was a player unlike so many who have passed through the doors at Hillsborough – and could for a while to come – in terms of what he could do with a football, and it was he and Barry Bannan, among others of course, who really gave hope to Wednesdayites.
With 15 goals in his first season as Wednesday narrowly missed out on promotion into the Premier League, fans were anticipating a big second campaign from Forestieri, and while 2016/17 started with drama as he allegedly refused to face Norwich City – something he apologised for shortly after – he came back with a bang as he got 12 goals as the Owls reached the Play-Offs once again.
After finishing as the club’s top goalscorer for two seasons in a row, though, it started to go downhill for the attacker, with his progress being hampered by a few knocks and the fact that he also faced a spell on the sidelines due to an FA ban after a being found guilty of using racist language – something he was previously acquitted for in a court of law.
As arguably the most gifted player in the team in terms of his ability, it will have come as no surprise that he was a wanted man. The likes of Derby County, Fulham and Norwich are all believed to have come knocking with offers of upwards of £10m plus add-ons, but the club said no. He wasn’t leaving.
Now though, as the talented forward weighs up his options before signing his next contract elsewhere, that has proven to be a miscalculation – especially given the Financial Fair Play issues that continue to loom over the club.
Instead of selling Forestieri – which, granted, would no doubt have annoyed some of the fanbase – and making a healthy profit on their original £3.5m outlay, he’ll walk away for free, without a goodbye.
His exit will bite for many, who still see him as the most exciting, creative player in the current squad. And there is still the opinion among many that – with an extended run of games and an arm around his shoulder – he could have rekindled his best form.
We’ll never know now, of course, but could he have been handled better?
Fernando Forestieri could have gone down in the Wednesday history books, potentially as a club top scorer or as a record sale. Unfortunately he’ll go down as neither, but fans will still have the memory of his goals, his celebrations and plenty more to remember him by.
The question will always be though – what if?