Salah, Kante, Torres: Who had the greatest Premier League debut season ever?

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Erling Haaland will be a Manchester City player next season.  

City have been crying out for a consistent goalscorer since the legendary Sergio Aguero left the club, which in Haaland, they’ve secured in abundance.

Despite being just 21, the explosive forward has netted 85 goals across his 88 appearances with Borussia Dortmund and has built himself a formidable reputation across Europe.

For that reason, Haaland’s arrival is sure to be one of the most hotly anticipated transfers in Premier League history.

Rival fans are nervously considering the prospect of a Kevin De Bruyne – Haaland link-up, a deadly duo that could maybe even surpass the iconic Gerrard – Torres partnership of the late noughties.

Bookmakers are already offering freakishly low prices on specials regarding Haaland’s expected goalscoring exploits, with Betfair providing odds as low as 11/10 for the soon to be City striker to surpass the 27-league goal mark.  

If you wanted to back him for the Golden Boot, you’ll be getting prices of around 11/4 – and Haaland hasn’t even been formally presented yet!

But how often do big transfers actually hit the ground running anyway? Look at Lukaku and Sancho – the two biggest transfers of the last summer window – they’ve both flopped spectacularly.  

Instant success is never a given; however, it is possible.

So, with that in mind, let’s consider how exactly it’s done best, by ranking the 12 greatest Premier League debut seasons ever.

The 12 greatest Premier League debut seasons ranked

12. Benni McCarthy

McCarthy was no stranger to the English footballing audience when he signed for Blackburn Rovers in 2006. The South African had played in Jose Mourinho’s Porto team of 2004, and his two goals in the Champions League against Manchester United proved the catalyst that had the young Portuguese manager famously racing down the Old Trafford pitch in celebration.

Eighteen league goals in his first year at Ewood Park, along with finishing second overall in the Golden Boot to Didier Drogba, ensured that McCarthy will always live long in the memory of Rovers fans.

Blackburn's Benni McCarthy
Blackburn’s Benni McCarthy

11. Roque Santa Cruz

Blackburn used to have quite the knack for sourcing talented but under-appreciated strikers. They picked up Santa Cruz for a mere £3.8 million in 2007, after he was finding gametime hard to come by at Bayern Munich.

The Paraguayan went on to have an impact that few could have anticipated in a Rovers shirt, bagging 19 goals in his debut season and spearheading the club to a seventh-place finish.

Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz
Blackburn’s Roque Santa Cruz

10. Michu

The Spaniard’s impact when he moved to Swansea City from Rayo Vallecano in 2012 was so vibrant that even Erling Haaland cites him as a hero.

Forever a founding member of the ‘streets will never forget’ debate, Michu’s eighteen goals and three assists on his debut season in Wales is enough to secure his iconic Premier League status.

Michu was a one season wonder at Swansea

9. Jurgen Klinsmann

The 1990 World Cup winner made the move to White Hart Lane from Monaco in the summer of 1994. He only lasted one season at the club before Bayern Munich pried him away, but that was enough to earn him the FWA Footballer of the Year award, thanks to his 20 Premier League goals.

Klinsmann would return for a second spell at Spurs in 1997, scoring nine goals in 15 games, as he helped rescue the club from relegation.

Klinsmann at Tottenham
Klinsmann is the PL’s most ‘wow’ signing

8. Ruud van Nistelrooy

The legendary Dutch striker is still fondly remembered at Old Trafford to this day after enjoying a glittering career in the north of England. His debut season in the 2001/2002 campaign saw him net 36 goals in all competitions for the club and finish second only to a rampant Thierry Henry in the race for the Golden Boot.

Van Nistelrooy Manchester United

7. Gianfranco Zola

Zola joined Chelsea for a paltry £4.5m in 1996 and proved an instant success. The little Italian genius won the FWA Footballer of the Year award in his first season and was instrumental as the Blues ended their 27-year trophy drought by lifting the FA Cup.

His performances led fellow countrymen, Claudio Ranieri, to sweetly put it: “Gianfranco tries everything because he is a wizard, and a wizard must try.”

Gianfranco Zola in action for Chelsea
Gianfranco Zola in action for Chelsea

6. Jaap Stam

Another PSV recruit of the Ferguson era, the intimidating Dutchman was a revelation in his first season at the Theatre of Dreams.

It was United’s treble winning season of 1999, and the club would go on to lift the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League with Stam at the heart of the defence. Ironically, the only competition they didn’t win that year was the League Cup and it was the only one Stam didn’t lace up his boots for.

Jaap Stam at Manchester United
jaap Stam

5. Fernando Torres

‘El Nino’s’ debut season at Liverpool was so good that his iconic song is still sang amongst groups of Liverpool fans to this day – and that’s even after making the controversial £50 million switch to Chelsea.

The Spaniard scored 24 goals in 28 games in his first year on Merseyside and was instantly a fan favourite amongst the Anfield faithful. He scored in eight consecutive home league games, was the first Liverpool player to score over 20 Premier League goals in over a decade and came third in the Ballon d’Or voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Fernando Torres at Liverpool
Fernando Torres

4. Kevin Phillips  

Phillips joined Sunderland upon their relegation from the Premier League in 1997, and scored 60 goals over the next two seasons to help the northeast club back into the big-time at the second time of asking.  

But it was upon their return to the top that things went to another level. ‘Super Kev’ notched 30 league goals that year, a feat bettered to this day by only Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, and Mohamed Salah.

He also won the European Golden Shoe and remains the only Englishman to ever do so.

Kevin Phillips at Sunderland
Kevin Phillips

3. Sergio Aguero

The Argentine probably shouldn’t surpass ‘Super Kev’ but one moment has granted him the final podium place. You know the one…

“Aguerooooo”, as said in Martin Tyler’s finest ever moment.

The striker’s 23 goals and eight assists were integral in sealing Manchester City’s renaissance.

Sergio Aguero 2011 Manchester City
Sergio Aguero 2011

2. N’Golo Kante

We would argue that, somehow, this is the forgotten debut season of them all. Kante joined Leicester as a rather unknown quantity, but what he would go on to achieve with the Foxes is sporting legend.

The Frenchman was at the heart of everything good in the Leicester team that won the Premier League title in 2015/2016, covering every blade of grass in pursuit of glory.

He earnt himself a £32 million switch to Chelsea after just one title-winning season in the east midlands, where he then became the first player to win back-to-back Premier League crowns with two different clubs and even helped himself to the PFA Player of the Year award.

Kante lifting the Premier League trophy with Leicester City
  1. Mohamed Salah

Of course, Salah had previously played in the Premier League at Chelsea, but his lack of gametime forced him to move to the Serie A and so we feel he still qualifies for this list.

After all, it would be a shame not to pay tribute to Salah’s ludicrously impressive debut season on Merseyside.

The Egyptian tore down record, after record, after record, on his way to scoring 32 league goals and sweeping up both PFA and FWA end of season awards – and it’s worth noting this was before he took up the responsibility of taking Liverpool’s spot-kicks.

The numbers simply cannot be argued with, so, whilst Salah didn’t lift any team trophies in his first season in red, his individual accolades are enough to elevate him above the competition.

Mohamed Salah celebrating for Liverpool

Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal ADVANCED STAGES (The Football Terrace):

1 of 20
FA Cup trophy

Which club have won the most FA Cups?

News Now - Sport News