When Crystal Palace loanee Mamadou Sakho was forced off against Tottenham Hotspur with an ankle injury that immediately looked set to end his season, Eagles fans were understandably disappointed.
The Frenchman had a fantastic impact at the club, starring in memorable victories over the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal to quickly establish himself as a fan favourite.
The 27-year-old looks set to secure iconic status at the club after helping the Eagles beat the drop after just eight appearances.
A number of clubs are likely to be queuing up to offer the France international a route out of Liverpool after an encouraging spell at Anfield ultimately ended in a fall-out with manager Jürgen Klopp.
Should Palace fail to land their man on a permanent basis, the need for defensive reinforcements will be a pressing one for Sam Allardyce. Scott Dann may be absent through injury but in truth his form had nosedived, while the Eagles boss is unconvinced by Damien Delaney given that left winger Jeffrey Schlupp got the nod in a back three with somewhat calamitous consequences at Manchester City.
The following are five players that Big Sam could look to in order to bolster his ranks at the back ahead of next season.
His availability was always likely to hinge on Hull City’s Premier League status. But after the Tigers failed to claw their way out of the drop zone, they can expect to receive plenty of offers for Maguire.
The former Sheffield United man has earned the trust of Marco Silva to the extent that he has taken the captain’s armband from the experienced Michael Dawson and the burly centre-back has certainly been a bright spark at the KCOM.
The 24-year-old has been in superb form since Silva’s appointment, not only impressing with his astute reading of the game at the back, averaging 2.2 interceptions per game, but also when stepping out of defence in possession. It’s something that Sakho does with similar success, using his strength to hold off opponents, and while they may face competition from bigger names, Maguire would be a good fit if the need does come to replace the popular Frenchman.
Links to Sunderland centre-back Kone come as little surprise given that Allardyce was the man to bring him to the Premier League during his time with the Black Cats.
The Ivorian, who was targeted by Everton last summer, was key to the Black Cats’ survival last time around and while he hasn’t had the same effect this season, it ultimately proved one great escape too far.
The 28-year-old may not possess the same ability on the ball as Sakho, who always seems to find a teammate despite an ungainly style, but offers a similar level of physicality that Allardyce appreciates.
Neither Kone nor the Palace loanee look to be drawn into one-on-one situations but instead position themselves to alleviate danger, with the Sunderland man just edging it when it comes to clearances per game (6.8 to 6.3).
While Ben Gibson has drawn the majority of the plaudits in an admittedly dull season at the Riverside, his centre-back partner for much of the campaign Chambers also deserves credit.
Set to return to Arsenal this summer, it will be interesting to see what the future holds at the Emirates for a player who is still just 22.
The signings of Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi certainly sent out a signal that Wenger doesn’t have the greatest amount of faith in the youngster, at least at centre-back. If not on a permanent basis, Chambers may well be made available for loan once more.
Key to his appeal, certainly to a club like Palace, is an ability to play both at the heart of the defence and on the right with Allardyce arguably a little short in both positions.
Chambers has even been used in a defensive midfield role in the past and for his age is actually a very reliable defender, willing to put his body on the line with a team high of 1 block per game for Boro, whilst averaging an impressive 7.4 clearances to boot.
He may not be a familiar name in a Nice side that has attracted plenty of attention this season but the imminent availability of Paul Baysse should have been noted by a number of clubs on the continent.
The centre-back confirmed last week that he will leave the Cote d’Azur this summer, claiming that the long time Ligue 1 leaders hadn’t shown the desire to keep him on their books.
Baysse has been in and out of the team under Lucien Favre after all but has seldom let the Swiss down in 19 league starts.
It’s the 28-year old’s composure on the ball that really stands out, adapting to the demands of a manager that encourages his defenders to play out from the back. A 90.9% pass accuracy from 61.5 passes per game is impressive by anyone’s standards, regardless of approach, while the Frenchman is also dependable in the air, winning 3.1 aerial duels per game.
Should Sakho’s time in south London be fleeting and Allardyce wish to replace his presence with a similarly intimidating one at the back, few are more so than Bond villain lookalike Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
The 24-year-old is currently on loan at Hamburg having failed to make an impression in a short spell with RB Leipzig and it seems as though he has no future at Bayer Leverkusen right now.
A Liverpool transfer target before they struck a deal for Sakho in 2013, the Greek international will be keen to get what was a promising career back on track.
It’s persistent injury problems that have stunted his progress to this point and would no doubt concern potential suitors but if Papadopoulos can stay fit than he certainly has plenty to offer. He is, after all, a man mountain at the back and in turn a real threat from set pieces at the opposite end. With 5 aerial duels won per game and an average of 7.5 clearances, should he steer clear of further injury problems there’s an astute, cut price pick up to be had.