10 best Premier League debut seasons

Mohamed Salah has taken English football by storm this year, and his 4 goals against Watford at the weekend put him the driver’s seat to win this season’s Golden Boot. But where does his first season at Liverpool rank among other players who adapted extremely quickly to life in the Premier League?

10)Benni McCarthy (Blackburn Rovers, 2006-07)

The South African was signed by Blackburn in 2006 from Porto, where he had enjoyed Champions League success under Jose Mourinho two years earlier. People didn’t exactly know what to expect from the striker, as they weren’t sure if he would be able to adapt to English football. He went on to score 18 Premier League goals, a tally second only to Didier Drogba’s 20. He netted 24 times in all competitions, as Blackburn reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Injuries marred the rest of his career at Ewood Park though, as he only netted 19 more league goals in the next three seasons, before being released.

9) Michu (Swansea City, 2012-13)

When Michu signed for Swansea City from Celta Vigo for a mere £2 million, nobody expected him to have the debut season he did. He scored 22 goals in all competitions and 18 in the league, as the Swans won the League Cup, along with winning both the Fans’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards.

What happened next though, was quite unbelievable. His career fell like a stone, as he only managed 2 league goals the following season and was released by the club in 2015. He is currently a free agent, after spending a couple of seasons in the lower leagues in Spain.

8) Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham Hotspur, 1994-95)

In his first and only season at White Hart Lane, Jurgen Klinsmann became an absolute darling of the Spurs faithful. He netted 30 times in all competitions, comfortably the highest tally at the club, including 21 in the Premier League. He won the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year award, as Spurs reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. The following season, he returned to his hometown and signed for Bayern Munich.

7) Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea, 1996-97)

The little magician signed for Chelsea in November 1996 from Parma, and was quick to show why he was a special talent. In a stellar debut season, he won the FA Cup (Chelsea’s first major trophy in over 25 years), and became the first Blues player to win the FWA Football of the Year award. He remains till date, the only player to win the award without playing the full season. He went on to become a legend at Stamford Bridge, scoring 80 goals in total over 7 seasons. Despite the club’s lavish success since Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003 (a week after Zola left the club), many fans still consider the Italian to be the club’s greatest ever player.

6) Fernando Torres (Liverpool, 2007-08)

Rafael Benitez brought Fernando Torres to Liverpool from Atletico Madrid for £20 million , which, in the summer of 2007, was a sizeable fee. There were never any signs of the Spaniard not paying the money back though, as he got off to a rip-roaring start and never looked back. He scored an incredible 33 goals in all competitions in his first year, and finished second in the Premier League Golden Boot race with 24. Liverpool reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, thanks in huge part to the partnership between Torres and Steven Gerrard. This was a partnership that would continue to thrive for the next 2 and a half seasons, as Torres became one of the most loved players ever in the club’s history. The relationship with the fans though, turned completely sour in January 2011, when he agreed to a £50 million move to Chelsea. Arguably, his best ever time as a footballer came during his Liverpool days, as he hasn’t been able to hit those heights since leaving Anfield.

5) Juan Mata (Chelsea, 2011-12)

Chelsea snatched Juan Mata from under Manchester United’s skin from Valencia, for a fee believed to be in the range of £28 million. The Spaniard was the best player in the team by far in his debut season, one that was abound with success for both player and club. Mata won the Fans’ Player of the Year award, while Chelsea won the FA Cup and their first ever UEFA Champions League trophy.

Mata continued in the same vein in the following season, winning both the Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards. Chelsea achieved European success once again, in the form of the Europa League. However, the midfielder fell out of favour with Jose Mourinho, who took over as manager the next season. After being sidelined, he was sold to Manchester United in January 2014, where he has continued to score and assist on a regular basis.

4) Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Manchester United, 2001-02)

Arguably Manchester United’s greatest ever Premier League striker, Ruud van Nistelrooy’s career at Old Trafford got off to an absolute flyer. He scored 23 Premier League goals, was top-scorer in the Champions League with 10, and set a new record by netting in 8 consecutive league games. He was also voted the PFA Players’ Player of the Year. Some debut season alright!

He went on to score 150 goals for United in all competitions over 5 seasons, and won the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup, along with the Golden Boot in the 2002/03 campaign.

3) N’GoloKante (Leicester City, 2015-16)

When Leicester City signed N’GoloKante from Caen in 2015, not many people had heard about the Frenchman. With his diminutive and frail-looking stature, everyone struggled to see how he would adapt to the Premier League. What followed was the most incredible fairytale in the history of English football, as Leicester went from relegation contenders the previous season to champions in 2016. Forwards Jamie Vardy and RiyadMahrez got most of the plaudits, but it was Kante’s incredible running, tackling, omnipresence and calmness that made Claudio Ranieri’s men tick. He had the engine of a machine, and was everywhere on the pitch.

His importance to Leicester City was displayed in large letters, when their decline coincided with Kante’s move to Chelsea in the summer of 2016. The midfielder won the Premier League once again, becoming the first ever player to win back-to-back titles with two different clubs. He has now established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.

2) Kun Aguero (Manchester City, 2011-12)

The conclusion to Sergio Aguero’s debut season with Manchester City was a dream. He netted the winner in stoppage time on the last day of the season, to snatch the title away from neighbours Manchester United and to give City their first league win since 1968. The expectations were high when the Argentine had signed from Atletico Madrid, and most of those had already been met.

Aguero has gone on to become one of the prolific scorers in Premier League history, and has netted over 200 times in all competitions for City, become their greatest ever marksman in the process. He is on course to win his third Premier League title this season, and will surely go down as one of the competition’s all-time greats.

1)Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, 2017-18)

He may not go on to win anything this season, but what Mohamed Salah has done this season is truly extraordinary. With 7 games still to go, the Egyptian has netted 28 times in the league already. The record for the most number of goals in a 38-game season is 31, one that Salah is almost sure to break. Technically, this is not his first season ever in the Premier League. He signed for Chelsea in 2014, but was unable to cement a place in the side under Mourinho. After a brief stint in the Serie A, he is now back in England, and how.

He has scored more goals this season in all competitions than Lionel Messi, and is the favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award. His game is tailor-made for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team, and he will look to kick on and achieve newer and bigger heights in the seasons to come.

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