One of the more peculiar January transfer rumours to surface over the past few weeks has been talk of former Everton defender Joleon Lescott making a surprise return to Goodison Park on loan (via The Telegraph).
These stories were first published at the start of the month, with David Moyes stating he'd be delighted to see Lescott come back, under the right circumstances.
Given the sour nature of his 2009 departure—which culminated in a unwelcome transfer request and Lescott eventually being banished away to train with the youth team—a return would certainly be an interesting viewing.
If there is indeed substance in this, and the Toffees do have a chance of bringing back a player once revered by fans, here's five reasons why it would be smart business.
First and foremost, Lescott is a high-calibre player who would improve every squad in the Premier League.
The fact he has somehow slipped down to fourth in Manchester City's defensive pecking order—unused against Manchester United behind Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasić and Kolo Toure—is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
Last season he started 30 games, helping City boast the Premier League's most miserly defence. The champions conceded just 0.76 goals-per-game, a ratio far lower than what's been achieved so far this season with 16 in 16.
Lescott left Everton twice voted the Players' Player of the Year, and has since gone on to hoist the FA Cup and Premier League trophy, while testing himself on the Champions League stage.
The subject of his departure will clearly remain too raw for several Evertonians to gloss over, but few can argue he hasn't achieved success in his years away from the club.
At 30, he is still very much in his prime for a defender and would immediately boost the Toffees' rearguard.
For most of 2008 and 2009, the Toffees paired Lescott at the back with Phil Jagielka, in a defensive partnership many Evertonians would cite as their best in the Premier League era.
Clean sheets became habitual, with 15 by the end of the 2008 season, and a club record in the Premier League of 17 the following year.
That is a far cry from what's been achieved at the moment. Although Everton have been hard to penetrate, with only four sides conceding fewer goals this season, clean sheets have been almost non-existent and have cost the Toffees at several stages.
Presently, the club haven't recorded a shutout for the past 11 games, the longest current streak in the Premier League.
Jagielka has been typically excellent so far this season, but alongside him, Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga have struggled for consistency, with neither doing enough warrant a prolonged run in the side.
Since leaving Everton, Lescott has rekindled his understanding with Jagielka for England, with similar success, and the prospect of another collaboration at club level would only benefit the Toffees.
Given his gradual exclusion from Manchester City's first team plans, Everton would be receiving a player desperate to shine, with a point to prove to several parties.
First there is Roberto Mancini, his club manager, who has suddenly deemed Lescott's attributes unworthy of a starting berth.
Considering the hostile response he has drawn from home fans when back at Goodison Park, he would also be keen to remind Everton supporters of his worth and produce his very best form.
Finally, Lescott has also admitted himself he fears his lack of first-team football many eventually affect his chances of retaining his England spot—which is certainly a reason for the defender to seek a loan move this January.
As well as helping his side record numerous clean sheets, Lescott has always had a useful knack of coming up with a goal for his side.
Back in 2009, he notched up a remarkable 10 strikes in the season—eight in the Premier League—and was the Toffees' joint second top scorer alongside Tim Cahill and Andy Johnson.
Predictably no central defender has come anywhere near replacing these feats, but Everton have generally struggled to muster any goals from their centre-backs in the years after Lescott.
Heitinga, Distin and Jagielka have 14 goals for the club from just under 450 appearances combined, whereas Lescott scored 17 in 143 appearances, highlighting his ability at set-pieces.
No central defender has scored in the league this season for Everton, with the trio of centre-backs so far missing six clear cut chances (according to EPL Index)—opportunities Lescott would have been far more likely to bury.
Should Lescott come in on loan, it would give Everton an opportunity to move on Johnny Heitinga, make some money and then possibly use it bring in players elsewhere.
Now into the final 18 months of his contract, the Dutchman seems unlikely to extend his current deal, and has been linked with a move away this winter.
While Heitinga has had his moments in an Everton jersey, and was impressive last season, his recent displays have been less than convincing and he is currently out of the side.
For a club so handicapped by a fragile bank balance, Moyes cannot afford to let such a valuable commodity wind down his contract, which is why a January deal must be prioritised.
Some have dismissed the likelihood of a Lescott return due to his wages, but by selling Heitinga, the Toffees could perhaps also afford to pay a greater proportion to Manchester City.
Statistics via EPL Index