Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Fernando Forestieri in Hillsborough's last-chance saloon
It came up in the pub last Sunday.
“Fernando Forestieri is still our best player,” said a Sheffield Wednesday supporting pal.
He didn’t mean best in terms of performance – be it this season, last season or even either of the previous two.
But best on his day? Undoubtedly.
Therein lies the riddle and the enigma of Forestieri.
It’s beyond dispute there haven’t been enough of those days since the former Watford forward’s bewitching first season in the blue and white.
In other circumstances, perhaps he might have been long sold for whatever figure in millions Wednesday could get.
He is certainly now well, well short of the £13m he once could have commanded.
Now, though, it’s a different ball game and a whole new one for a 29-year-old who can manipulate that spherical object magically.
A new manager, a fresh chance.
Garry Monk can’t be sure Forestieri will take it, much as predecessors were left frustrated.
But what he can’t do, either, is not try to tap into one player capable of transforming any team at Wednesday’s level.
On ability, there can be no doubts.
Can it be channelled to the team, can it be produced consistently?
Recent evidence of either is scant. It’s lain tantalisingly below the surface.
And recently buried altogether under a contentious six-match ban for an unrelated issue.
Forestieri is making another standing start, except that Garry Monk appears to have taken a special interest from the beginning, encouraging him to hone his fitness.
That’s hugely important for the signals it sends to a temperamental talent.
Fernando wants to feel wanted; he certainly remains so for most fans.
It’s also worth stressing that he shows a high level of commitment on the field, a chaser back and tackler when necessary.
There is tenacity alongside that talent.
Whether he should have been sold or not is now beside the point.
Forestieri is here until January at least; you have to try to tap into what you know he has.
It could prove powerful, too, that he is only on contract until next summer.
This could be his final season at Hillsborough unless he produces.
That question can’t be left unanswered and we’ll find out soon enough.
The right sort of answer could do wonders for Wednesday’s season.