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The 12 greatest debut seasons in Premier League history – where does Mo Salah rank?

A dozen players who made dazzling instant impacts with Premier League clubs after joining from abroad – or, in one famous case, from below following promotion

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Mohamed Salah is tearing up the Premier League this season, with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne the only other player in with a chance of scooping the PFA Player of the Year prize. Salah has scored 29 goals and assisted nine others in his 31 Premier League outings for Liverpool, and his return to English football has been a resounding success – making a mockery of Chelsea’s decision to sell him to Roma in 2016.

Having scored the goal that secured Egypt's spot at the World Cup for the first time since 1990, Salah is delivering in a massive way for both club and country. With that in mind, let's take a look at the best Premier League debut seasons, from Treble-winning defensive behemoths to invincible goalkeepers...

12. Diego Costa (Chelsea, 2014/15)

Brazil-born Spain international Costa made few friends in his time at Chelsea but enjoyed an incredible start to his career in England, scoring seven goals in his first four Premier League matches. He went on to net 20 times in his first season in the Premier League, and also scored against Tottenham in the League Cup final to ensure that the Blues won both the league title and a domestic cup in his debut term.

Costa’s combative nature landed him in trouble with the FA on a number of occasions, but there’s no doubt that his arrival at Stamford Bridge rejuvenated a Chelsea side that had struggled domestically since winning the title last in 2010. He scored 52 goals in 89 league appearances before moving back to Atletico Madrid in January 2018.

11. Fernando Torres (Liverpool, 2007/08)

With his more recent career history in mind, it’s easy to forget what an impact El Nino had upon signing for Liverpool in the summer of 2007. Twenty-four Premier League goals in 29 starts set a record for the most prolific debut season for a foreign player in the league’s history, beating Ruud van Nistelrooy’s goal return for Manchester United in 2001/02.

The Spanish forward scored in eight consecutive home league games, matching Roger Hunt’s Liverpool record, and also becoming the first Reds player to score 20 league goals in a season since Robbie Fowler over a decade before. On top of that, Torres became the first player in 60 years to score consecutive home hat-tricks in the league.

For the form shown in his sensational debut season at Liverpool, and for helping Spain win Euro 2008, Torres finished third in the Ballon d'Or voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

10. Benni McCarthy (Blackburn, 2006/07)

South African striker McCarthy arrived at Ewood Park in the summer of 2006 having enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Ajax, Celta Vigo and Porto. He’d been part of Jose Mourinho’s 2004 Champions League-winning team at the Portuguese giants, but McCarthy’s form had dropped off in the two seasons since and not much was expected of him when replacing the Liverpool-bound Craig Bellamy.  

Blackburn started the season with a 3-0 defeat at Fratton Park against Portsmouth, but McCarthy found his feet quickly and had scored against Wigan, Manchester City, Everton and Liverpool by the end of September. He ended up with 18 Premier League goals as his all-African strike partnership with Shabani Nonda fired Rovers to 10th place under Mark Hughes.

Three more goals in the FA Cup took Blackburn to the semi-finals, and another three in the UEFA Cup meant McCarthy finished with 24 goals in all competitions.

9. Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham, 1994/95)

1990 World Cup winner Klinsmann arrived at White Hart Lane in the summer of 1994 from French club Monaco. He started with a goal on his debut away at Sheffield Wednesday in a 4-3 win for Spurs, and notched seven times in his first six league matches en route to 21 league goals (30 in all competitions).

Despite Klinsmann’s impact earning him the FWA Footballer of the Year award, Tottenham ended up seventh in the Premier League and the German was bought by Bayern Munich. His goalscoring exploits continued there – 31 goals in 45 appearances the following year helped the Bavarian giants win the UEFA Cup.

Klinsmann eventually returned to Tottenham for the second half of the 1997/98 season. His belated second season didn’t go too bad either, producing nine goals in 15 league games to help save Spurs from relegation.