Everton have announced that they will not be signing Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Conor Coady on a permanent deal.
Last summer, the Toffees capitalised on Coady dropping down the pecking order at Molineux to secure a season-long loan agreement with the option to buy.
When it was revealed that the fee in question would be £4.5m, there was an assumption that the England international had played his final game for Wolves.
However, that may not be the case with the Toffees revealing that they will not retain the services of the 30-year-old, despite salvaging their Premier League status for another 12 months.
On Thursday morning, director of football Kevin Thelwell said: "We want to sincerely thank Conor and Ruben (Vinagre, who is returning to Sporting Lisbon) for their impeccable professionalism and valuable contributions both on and off the pitch during their time with the club. We wish both players the best in their futures."
The development will be regarded as a blow for Coady who had been recalled to the starting lineup to help Everton record a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on the last day of the season.
In total, Coady made 23 starts and one substitute outing for the Merseyside outfit in the top flight during 2022-23, also helping Everton beat Arsenal and Leeds United under Sean Dyche and keep a clean sheet in the process.
Nevertheless, Coady was making his first start since the end of February when he was selected on Sunday, and Everton's limited finances have led to them turning down the chance to keep hold of the former Liverpool youngster.
Despite Coady's previous status as captain at Wolves, his parent club will be equally frustrated that Everton have not taken up their option to buy.
The West Midlands outfit need to boost their position with FFP as soon as possible before they are able to try to secure Julen Lopetegui's targets for the summer.
Coady will not be short of admirers, however, with it reported earlier this week that Sheffield United, a former loan club of Coady, hold an interest in his signature.
Other teams, particularly those who play with three at the back, may also put forward a proposal, likely no higher than £4.5m given the previous fee that had been agreed with Everton and with Coady now a year older.