The 2008-2009 season saw David Moyes build arguably the second strongest central defensive partnership in the Premier League. Behind the Manchester United duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott were about as good as it got for Premier League defences, and as troublesome as it got for the opposition.
The rock-solid foundation of the team earned Moyes and Everton many plaudits as despite being plagued by injuries (eventually to Jagielka himself too) they charged to fifth in the league and narrowly lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea.
Now, however, the tables appear to have turned.
The talismanic Jagielka appears to be sentenced to the treatment table until the end of 2009—making Lescott's appearance in the team even more crucial. However, it seems his heart is not in it any more.
His head, like many before him in the last few months, has been turned by the incentive of huge cash sums and so far unfulfilled promise at Manchester City.
All of this is currently leaving Everton in a mess.
David Moyes has to be admired for his stance, but player power is unfortunately uncontrollable in this day and age. Despite the fact that Lescott is under contract, Moyes could not force him to stay if he becomes too unhappy.
Moyes has every right to be concerned—the very foundation on which his team achieved so much success last season has now crumbled apart, and he is desperate to keep hold of Lescott to try and rebuild that foundation as soon as possible.
But since Moyes took over at Goodison Park, he has superbly moulded a team on a considerably low budget. And right now, the cons of keeping Lescott far outweigh the pros.
His unhappiness could well be having a detrimental effect on the whole team—Lescott will certainly be the figure under the media's radar as they look for explanations as to why The Toffees were humiliated by Arsenal.
Losing just one player will not be losing the whole team. In essence, he could be regaining them by giving the want-away defender his wish.
But Moyes seems to be stuck. There is little time left in the transfer window to replace a defender of Lescott's quality, and with Jagielka out for some time still, Lescott's sale will hurt Everton more in the short-term.
But if, as expected, Arsenal and Switzerland defender Philippe Senderos joins the club, and Lescott leaves, there is always the option of a six-month loan signing, whilst (at least) temporarily pocketing the £20 million plus expected from Lescott's sale.
The loan player himself would not have to be special. Just someone to fill the gap until Jagielka returns. Because at the moment, Everton's defensive options look about as limited as movement in a coffin.
Somebody powerful and with a big presence would be all that is needed to fill the boots of Jagielka whilst Senderos effectively slots in the gap that Lescott would leave.
Ibrahima Sonko, unable to break in to the first team at Stoke City, but a man who has Premier League experience with Reading, would be ideal, just as a stop-gap.
Moyes will eventually have to give in and give Lescott his wish of a "dream" move to the world's richest club. But he cannot afford to not replace him with somebody, or Everton are in for an extremely rocky ride this season.