Radamel Falcao gave Manchester United fans another glimpse of why they should be spending big money on his signature this month.
On the day when press reports claimed the Red Devils are set to agree a €50million deal for the player, the striker scored the all-important equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Stoke City on New Year's Day.
And, for just over 60 minutes, Falcao showed just what he can offer Louis can Gaal at Old Trafford not just this season, but for many more years to come.
In truth, it was disappointing to see the Colombian hauled off for Adnan Januzaj in the second period at the Britannia Stadium, as he looked the most likely to grab a winner despite sharing the pitch with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
It's not the first time that's been the case this season, and the 28-year-olds energy and commitment is reminiscent of another South American who took the Premier League by storm - Luis Suarez.
True, Falcao didn't make the same immediate impact as the Uruguayan, but his fitness problems were well-documented as he recovered from a knee injury which kept him out of last summer's World Cup.
His cameo appearances off the bench always gave glimpses of what he was capable of however, and for a spell in the infamous defeat at Leicester City he was unplayable. Had his audacious chip gone in and not hit the bar at the Walker's Stadium, that result might have been completely different.
Falcao got his name on the scoresheet in the 2-1 win over Everton, and after a bit of a dry patch in-front of goal in his subsequent appearances, he struck again last month in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
Today's goal in the Potteries was his third of the spell so far, and whilst that return comes from 12 appearances for the Red Devils, he's only made seven starts for Van Gaal's side in the Premier League.
As a striker, it's no surprise that Falcao is judged on his goal return ratio. But he's shown that he offers more than that, and whilst the price-tag and wage packet is big, it would certainly be money well spent.
The Colombian is showing that he has the attributes to be a success in the Premier League, and if Manchester United decided to look elsewhere rather than sign the striker permanently, they would be taking a significant gamble.
Falcao has also shown in the past that he can mix it in Europe, scoring plenty of goals for Atletico Madrid in both the Champions League and Europa League. That could come in very handy next season.
Competition breeds success
It wouldn't be an absolute disaster if the Red Devils weren't able to sign Falcao permanently. After all, they do have Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, two of the best strikers in Premier League history.
However, a look back to the great United sides of the past - most notably in '99 - shows that four quality strikers is the ideal scenario. Each player pushes the other to perform even better.
As well as Rooney and Van Persie, you've got Falcao and the young James Wilson desperate for game time. Alternating the four is likely to provide the best results for the former champions.
Buy now or later?
Even if a deal isn't struck, United will have Falcao on their books until the end of the season as part of his loan agreement. But the risk is that, if he continues to impress, other clubs will start to show interest.
He's scored goals in Spain and France, and has now shown he's capable in England. There isn't a club in Europe who wouldn't want him, and Manchester United are in pole position.
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