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Possible Options: Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Aleksandar Dragovic (Basel), Dejan Lovren (Lyon), Jores Okore (FC Nordsjaelland).
Some may legitimately question the early slide that claimed Everton need a solution at centre-back, but defence has undoubtedly been an issue for long periods this season. It has to be remembered the starting lineup needs improving to make the top four as this season's efforts have fallen short of that target.
Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines have been consistent throughout while Seamus Coleman and Sylvain Distin have improved after patchy starts, helping the Toffees to their current run of seven clean sheets in nine.
However, before that, Everton went on an unbelievable run of 18 games (in all competitions) without a shutout, stretching from September to January. That agonising period saw the Toffees literally shelling points as a series of late lapses ultimately cost them dearly.
The goals did not come in periods the team dominated, and the defence were left unable to hold onto one-goal leads, leaving far too many matches drawn. Seven in nine at one stage.
Distin has certainly shown his reliability in recent weeks, but, approaching 36, it's unlikely he will be as consistent for a whole season next year. John Heitinga has been the Toffees other option, and the Dutchman has been horribly out of form, far below his standards of last season that saw him named Fans' Player of the Season.
As a whole, the team have struggled with physical front men, with several burly strikers bullying them. Everton have conceded 39 percent of their goals from headers this season, a staggering 11 percent more than any other side, with Heitinga proving particularly fallible in this area.
To be formidable enough for the top four, the Toffees need an imposing presence to partner Jagielka at the back. Distin can provide reliable cover in reserve, while it's perhaps best Heitinga seeks a change of scenery.