Eliaqium Mangala's Everton career may be over before it's even begun after news broke of a potentially season-ending knee injury.
The on-loan Manchester City defender sustained the problem during the Toffees' 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace last Saturday and, if the Daily Mail is to be believed, Mangala may be sent back to his parent club due to the injury's severity.
Indeed, the 26-year-old has suspected knee ligament damage and, if those fears prove to be correct, it will be another big blow for the France international as well as Blues boss Sam Allardyce.
The 63-year-old had brought Mangala to Goodison Park on a six-month loan deal as he sought to find some balance in his defence with a natural left-footed centre-half.
However, after just one full 90-minute run out against Arsenal and a 40-minute display against the Eagles Mangala landed awkwardly during an Everton corner as he appeared to twist his knee.
Despite trying to carry on after he received lengthy treatment, Mangala was withdrawn from the action and sent for scans on the issue.
Eliaquim Mangala facing lengthy spell out for Everton with knee injury.— paul joyce (@_pauljoyce) February 17, 2018
(You may also be interested in Ramiro Funes Mori Targets First-Team Run After Injury Return & Uses Everton Teammate as Inspiration)
It is unclear if the former Porto star has sustained damage to his medial or cruciate ligaments, but it would seem that his chances of impressing for Everton ahead of this summer's World Cup in Russia may be over.
Everton's medical team will continue to review Mangala's situation until a full prognosis has officially been determined.
Everton that, at least we didn’t buy him— Adam (@A_D_T0) February 16, 2018
Allardyce had spoken glowingly about the capture of Mangala - albeit temporarily - from the Premier League leaders, and had been expected to play his new acquisition for much of the remainder of the campaign.
Those hopes have now been dashed, it would appear, and Allardyce must plow on with choosing a centre-back partnership from his remaining five other options.
Michael Keane, Ashley Williams, Phil Jagielka and Mason Holgate will battle it out to cement a regular starting berth in Everton's lineup, while Ramiro Funes Mori will add to that contingent when he is fully recovered from his own long-term knee injury.