Another week, another countdown, this time we’ll be looking at the Top 10 Premier League Debut seasons of all time, impact in other competitions will also play a factor FYI. I’ll also take a look at who did/didn’t sustain their debut form, anyways lets get into it!
10. Didier Drogba 04/05
A Premier League legend kick starts this list. He only managed 10 league goals and 16 in all competitions but his impact was much more than goals, he led the line and bullied defences which allowed for Lampard and Cole to score more. His impact helped Chelsea win their first Premier League title aswell as the League Cup.
He would follow this year on by helping Chelsea retain the title before going on to lead the Chelsea line to domestic and European triumphs in years to come. Didier was never the most prolific striker but the impact and influence he had on his team was showed no more than in his debut season, which is why he lands himself in our top 10.
9. Javier ‘ Chicarito ‘ Hernandez
One of my favourite players of all time, I had never heard of him when we signed him but remember instantly going to YouTube to search him up, there wasn’t much there but what I did see was a fox in the box striker and that’s exactly what we came to see from Chicarito. His first game he helped win the Community Shield when he kicked the ball against his own head against Chelsea, he had the famous backwards header against Stoke and also scored numerous late winners for the club. He was an instant fan favourite.
He would go onto score 20 goals in total including a goal that virtually won the title against Chelsea and help United win the league and reach the Champions League Final. A truly great season. He suffered from second season syndrome the next year and wasn’t as effective but still managed 12 goals before rebounding with 18 the next season as United regained the league. For just £10m, the impact he he made was immense, well deserving of 9th spot here.
8. Fernando Torres
What a season this was, signed for £25m , Torres was leaving his boyhood club to make the big move to Merseyside. I still remember his first goal very well, a typical trademark finish with his right foot into the bottom corner. He finished the season with 29 goals in all comps which broke Michael Owens club record. He was named in the PFA TOTY aswell as being nominated for both PFA POTY AND PFA YPOTY.
He followed up his debut season by again being in the PFA TOTY. While his Liverpool run was his best in terms of individual performances, it wasn’t until his move to London where he began to win trophies. However Torres from 07-09 was a different breed of striker, probably the best in the world at that time, regardless of the lack of trophies won he’s well worthy of a place at #8 here.
7. Diego Costa
A striker I was on my knees for my club to sign. The perfect forward for me. Goals, presence, strength, good on the ball and an absolute b*stard. Diego Costa had an unforgettable debut season as he led Chelsea to the League title as well as picking up the Carabao Cup along the way. He achieved 21 goals along the way and was named in the PFA TOTY. A striker that every defender feared to come up against, Chelsea don’t know how lucky they were to have him.
Costa and his Chelsea side had a poor next season as they finished 10th before rebounding the next year and regaining the league title. He scored 20 League goals again making that 53 in 89 league games, an impressive return.His debut season was so successful he had to go get into this list, Chelsea fans will never forget his impact.
6. Ruud Van Nistlerooy
My first favourite player, what a gun man he was. He was meant to sign the previous season but due to an ACL injury the signing was delayed a year. When he did eventually join he took England and Europe by storm, 36 goals in all comps including 10 in the Champions League making him top scorer and also the top assist provider. Domestically he was named PFA POTY, beating out Thierry Henry, showing just how good he was that year.
It was a rare trophy-less year for United but the next season RVN got even better and catapulted United to the League title, capturing the Golden boot along the way. He amassed 44 goals in 52 games which is just nuts. Most players fall off after a debut season like he had but he somehow bettered, a PL legend and one of the greatest strikers of all time, RVN’s debut season is well worthy of the #6 spot.
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This season he had was incredible, he had scored 60 goals the previous 2 years in the championship before helping Sunderland gain promotion. Here most people thought it would be the same old predictable story, where the Championship striker goes up a level and gets found out. Instead Phillips got even better and scored more goals in less games, 30 in 36 for a promoted club!!! Unbelievable stats. His efforts earned him the PFA POTY award, the Golden Boot and also the European Golden Boot, the only Englishmen to ever win this award.
He followed up this season with 18 goals in all comps which is still a very impressive return. Regardless of what he did for the rest of his career, his debut season will also leave his name in English football history, he’s well worthy of a spot at #5.
4. Petr Cech
I’ll be honest, I made this list out and he wasn’t even considered, he just completely slipped my mind. Fortunately I remembered at the last moment. I would’ve been slaughtered if I omitted the best individual season from a keeper in Premier League history. He conceded 13 goals in 35 league games…Not much more needs to be said, hasn’t been done since and will not be done again. His name will be in the record books forever.
The next season he conceded 18 in 34, ridiculous stats again, I always wonder would he have remained at this level if he never got that head injury but nonetheless his debut season was historic and well worthy of #4 on this list.
He was named Football Writers POTY as he helped Chelsea win the FA Cup, their first trophy in almosy 30 years. An often overlooked Premier League icon.
The Spaniard was signed for just £2m and scored over 20 goals as he led Swansea to League Cup glory. Checkout our edition of Streets Won’t Forget as he go deeper into his debut season.
The Spanish magician managed 12 goals and 20 assists in all competitions as he helped Chelsea win the Champions League, had his and the clubs league form been stronger he definitely would have found himself in the top 10.
My favourite thing about writing this article was that I was so scared I would have to rank Mo Salah high but then remembered Jose gave him a few academy minutes back in 2013 so his 17/18 season isn’t eligible.
Now for the top 3…
3. Sergio Aguero
The man who almost reduced me to tears. I remember his debut game was an MNF fixture, he came off the bench and scored 2 goals and got an assist, I already knew he was dangerous from his time in Spain but after that cameo I was sh*tting myself. He would go on to score 30 goals and provide the 2nd most iconic moment in English football history as he won City the title in the dying seconds of the game.
His next season was actually his worst in England as he only managed 12 league goals. This form didn’t last though as he’s gone on to be regarded as the best striker in England for the past decade. His exploits in 11/12 won City the title and for that reason he lands himself in the top 3.
2. Ngolo Kante
Leicester City need to give Steve Walsh a key to the City. For those who don’t know him, he’s their former chief scout, who identified Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and of course N’Golo Kante. The unknown Frenchman was signed for £5m and changed the course of English football, madness! His dominant midfield displays led Leicester to the title as their players voted him their POTY. He became known as one of the best midfield players in Europe and made Danny Drinkwater look like a £35m player.
He would go to Chelsea the next year and do it all again, this time winning the PFA POTY, what an incredible 2 year stretch, one of the best you’ll ever see in my eyes. He’s unlucky not to find himself first in this list.
1. Jaap Staam
The greatest Dutch CB to ever play in English football.
In 1998 United had been beaten out by Arsenal in the league and were in need of a new CB. In came big Jaap Stam, a CB who was quick, strong and good on the ball, God I’d kill for someone like him now. He commanded the defence as United went onto to do an unprecedented Treble, he was named in the PFA TOTY and was named UEFA Defender of the year. The only competition United didn’t win that season was the league cup, funnily enough its the only cup he didn’t play in.
He would go onto to win 2 more titles making that 3 in a row and also feature in the PFA TOTY for those 3 years. That’s 3 league titles in a row where he was the best defender in England. No other CB besides Rio and Vidic can claim that. A Premier League great that I wish I could’ve watched first hand, the undefeated, undisputed #1 best debut season in Premier League History.
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