Conventional wisdom says it would be a major blow were Newcastle United to lose Demba Ba this summer.
I'll play devil's advocate for a minute.
Ba was superb from late September to early January last season, no doubt. But he's also a 27-year-old with a degenerative condition in his knee. And, despite what he's said publicly, he didn't do a very good job of hiding his annoyance with having to move out to the left to accommodate - and play second fiddle to - Papiss Cisse.
Then there's the fact that after scoring 16 goals in his first 20 appearances last season, he failed to find the back of the net in his last 14, a stretch in which he also only managed one assist.
Cisse's arrival and Hatem Ben Arfa's re-emergence forced Alan Pardew to reshuffle his lineup, and the 4-3-3 alignment he tended to favor helped spark the six-game late-season winning streak that put Newcastle into Champions League contention.
From an individual standpoint, Ba may not have been as effective playing on the left of a forward line with Cisse and Ben Arfa. But Newcastle as a team looked more potent in the attack - both when controlling possession and on the counter - out of the 4-3-3 than it had previously. And certainly more so than when Pardew swapped Ba and Cisse or played a standard 4-4-2 late in the season, moves that sure smelled like attempts to pacify an unhappy Ba.
Might Newcastle be better off with a forward who's happy to play in the center or on the left? Or one who might be more compatible with Cisse in a 4-4-2? (And I won't pretend to know if FC Twente's Luuk de Jong - reportedly the subject of a failed £8 million bid by Newcastle this week - is that player.)
Ba has the ability to fill both of those roles when he's not jaded. He was Newcastle's best player when deployed on the left at West Brom, even if he didn't get on the scoresheet. He showed on several occasions that he can effectively drop into the hole in a 4-4-2, which in theory would allow Cisse to prowl about at the top of the formation.
Let me be clear: Newcastle will be better off next season with Ba still on its roster. But if one of his many agents finds him an unworldly payday elsewhere, it's no reason for Newcastle fans to panic.