Martial law: 17 other stars who hit the ground running – and what happened next

After the Frenchman's impressive recent performances for club and country, Raphael Barnett-Ward looks at some of the players who also got off to a flyer... 

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Tony Cottee (Everton)

Cottee was signed for £2 million by Everton from West Ham United in 1988, a figure that made him the most expensive British player of all time. It took the striker just 34 seconds to open his account for the Toffees, and he went on to net a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory over Newcastle. Cottee scored 72 top-flight goals for Everton in total, before returning to West Ham in 1994.

Sergio Aguero (Man City)

Diego Maradona’s former son-in-law built up a fine reputation for himself during a five-year spell at Atletico Madrid, but nobody really knew whether Aguero would be an instant hit at nouveau riche Manchester City in 2011. The striker wasted little time in picking up from where he’d left off in Spain, hitting a brace on his debut against Swansea and providing an assist for David Silva’s strike in a 4-0 win. He’s continued in similar fashion ever since.

Federico Macheda (Man United)

Ever since Martial’s superb goal against Liverpool last month, Macheda’s name has been used (a bit bizarrely) as a warning to Manchester United fans. Like Martial, the Italian was responsible for a stunning strike on his debut: his effort in the dying minutes of United’s clash with Aston Villa secured a vital 3-2 win for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, who went on to win the title.

Unfortunately for Macheda, that proved to be the high point: the 24-year-old currently turns out for Cardiff in the Championship – well, irregularly – after loan spells at QPR, Doncaster and Birmingham.

Fabrizio Ravanelli (Middlesbrough)

Ravanelli is responsible for one of the most memorable debuts in Premier League history: after signing for Middlesbrough from Juventus for £7 million in 1996, the Italian bagged a memorable hat-trick against Liverpool in his first appearance. He got his name on the scoresheet another 13 times in the league that season, but Boro were relegated and the silver-haired striker left the following summer after complaining about training drills, facilities and the town of Middlesbrough.

The greatest ever Premier League debut?

Paulo Wanchope (Derby)

If you really want to impress your new supporters, Wanchope’s lead wouldn't be a bad one to follow. After signing from Herediano, the 20-year-old Costa Rican’s Messi-esque goal on his debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford in April 1997 was later voted the greatest in Derby County’s history. Wanchope played for eight different clubs after leaving Derby in 1999, and recently resigned as Costa Rica head coach after being filmed fighting with a steward during an Under-23 Olympic qualifier with Panama.

Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham)

The most memorable thing about Klinsmann’s strikes against Sheffield Wednesday in August 1994 were his diving celebration that followed them, but the former Tottenham centre-forward should be remembered more for his goals than his reputation as someone who went down a little too easy. Klinsmann scored 21 in all competitions that year, becoming an instant Spurs hero. The former Germany boss is currently in charge of the U.S. national side, who he led to the last 16 at the World Cup last summer.

FEATURE Dives, Beetles and Ossie's Dream: 20 years on, Jurgen Klinsmann's Tottenham days remembered

Amr Zaki (Wigan)

A very long time ago, Zaki was briefly the Premier League's hottest marksman

Nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’, Zaki netted a terrific volley on his Wigan debut in August 2008 and was duly added to fantasy football teams across the world. By the New Year, the Egyptian was the division’s joint-top scorer with 10 goals, leading to reports that Real Madrid were chasing his signature. Things soon went downhill, though. Manager Steve Bruce branded Zaki “highly unprofessional” after he returned to Wigan late following international duty in April, with the striker then returning to Zamalek a few months later and then disappearing into obscurity. 

Diafra Sakho (West Ham)

The Senegal international signed a four-year contract with West Ham in mid-August 2014 and made his debut the following week in the Hammers’ comfortable 3-1 win at Crystal Palace. His first Premier League goal came in a 2-2 draw at Hull in September, before he went on a run of scoring six times in his next seven matches. The goals soon dried up, though – Sakho only struck three in his next 14 top-flight appearances. He's proved an excellent signing for the east Londoners, however, and has started 2015/16 well. 

Robbie Keane (Coventry)

The 1990s was a time of simpler celebrations for Keane

Keane joined Coventry from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £6 million aged 19, and the Irishman wasted little time in kick-starting his Sky Blues career. He scored twice on his debut against Derby in 1999, and went on to help himself to another 10 goals in his first-ever Premier League season. Inter snapped him up for £13m after just a season at Highfield Road. Now 35, Keane currently turns out for LA Galaxy after other (mostly) fruitful spells at Leeds, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal)

When Arshavin returned to Zenit on a permanent basis in 2013, Arsenal fans were left contemplating what might have been

Arshavin’s £15m move from Zenit to Arsenal in January 2009 provoked controversy, as claims emerged that certain documents hadn't been completed before the FA’s 5pm deadline. Arshavin almost immediately put that behind him, though, impressing on his debut against Sunderland and following that up with a stack of assists before the season's end – eight in as many matches from his third game onwards. Chuck in that four-goal haul against Liverpool, and Gunners fans were rightfully excited. But the Russian's time in north London was characterised by some wildly inconsistent displays; when he returned to Zenit on a permanent basis in 2013, Gooners were left contemplating what might have been.

Adrian Mutu (Chelsea)

Roman Abramovich’s £121m spending spree after taking over Chelsea in 2003 saw Mutu join the Blues from Serie A side Parma. The Romanian got off to a flying start in west London, scoring six goals in his first five games, but his clinical touch in front of goal seemed to vanish thereafter, with just two league goals between October and April.

In September 2004, Mutu tested positive for cocaine and was sacked by Chelsea for gross misconduct. After spending time with Juventus, Fiorentina and Ajaccio, the 36-year-old currently turns out for Pune City in the Indian Super League.

Michael Johnson (Man City)

The academy product really found his feet under Sven-Goran Eriksson the following season, with team-mate Dietmar Hamann even comparing the teenager to Michael Ballack

There is perhaps no greater example of an English superstar failing to live up to the hype like Johnson; the midfielder was tipped for great things as a youngster at Manchester City but retired from professional football in 2012 aged 24.

Johnson made his first-team debut for City in October 2006, slotting in seamlessly as Stuart Pearce’s side thrashed Wigan 4-0. The academy product really found his feet under Sven-Goran Eriksson the following season, with team-mate Dietmar Hamann even comparing the teenager to Michael Ballack. Things quickly deteriorated, however. He suffered a double hernia in 2007 before a cruciate ligament injury limited him to just two appearances in 2009/10. Johnson, who was arrested for drink driving and released by City in 2012, currently owns an estate agent business in his hometown of Urmston.

Benni McCarthy (Blackburn)

McCarthy scored 37 top-flight goals for Rovers between 2006 and 2010

McCarthy joined Blackburn from Porto for £2.5m in 2006, scoring on his home debut against Everton. Only Didier Drogba found the net more often than the South African, who finished the season as the Premier League’s second-highest scorer with 18 net-ripplers to his name. After four years in Lancashire, the striker spent an unsuccessful season at West Ham before returning to his home country to play for Orlando Pirates.

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Robinho (Man City)

In one of the most stunning signs in modern times, Manchester City signed Robinho from Real Madrid in September 2008 just hours after the Abu Dhabi United Group had completed their takeover of the club. The Brazilian was scintillating early on in England too, scoring on his debut against Chelsea before taking the match ball home after a hat-trick against Stoke. He ended the campaign with 14 goals, but things soon took a turn for the worse: he failed to score in 10 Premier League appearances in 2009/10 and, disgruntled, was loaned to Santos in January.

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Nikica Jelavic (Everton)

Jelavic arrived at Everton on deadline day in January 2012 and immediately hit the ground running: the Croatian scored on his first start for the Toffees and added another 10 before the season’s end, including a goal at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final and two at Old Trafford in a 4-4 draw with Manchester United. But the Croatian struggled to replicate his 2011/12 performances the following season and was sold to Hull in the summer of 2013. Two years on Humberside came to an end when West Ham brought Jelavic to Upton Park last month

Michu (Swansea)

Michu was hailed as the bargain of the century when Swansea parted with just £2m to bring him to South Wales from Rayo Vallecano in July 2012.

The Spaniard scored twice in a 5-0 thrashing of QPR on the opening day, and went on to plunder a hugely impressive 18 goals in 35 games in the Premier League. Unsurprisingly, Michu – who also scored at Wembley as Swansea won their first-ever major trophy by defeating Bradford in the League Cup final – was voted the club’s Player of the Year.

Second season syndrome hit in 2013/14, before he endured a difficult loan spell at Napoli last season. Now back with the Swans, he has yet to even appear on the bench this term.

FEATURE The enigma of Michu: the rise, the fall... the what next?

Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Norwich)

The Dutchman joined Norwich from Sporting Lisbon for a club record £8.5m in summer 2013, and was immediately handed the No.9 shirt that previously belonged to Canaries icon Grant Holt.

Van Wolfswinkel found the back of the net on the opening day of the 2013/14 campaign with a looping header against Everton but then famously failed to score again for the rest of the season. Norwich were eventually relegated, Van Wolfswinkel was sent out on loan to Saint-Etienne and Gary Lineker & Co. breathed a sigh of relief at never having to pronounce his name again.

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Read about FFT's 'New A-List' in the November 2015 issue of FourFourTwo, available in print, on iPad and iPhone from Wednesday, October 7, as Anthony Martial, Kevin De Bruyne and Pedro attempt to take the Premier League by storm. We go One-on-One with Brazil legend Cafu, sit down with Alan Pardew at Palace and experience a new city derby as Westfields host the newly formed Hereford FC. Plus, we ask Football League clubs whether youth academies are really worth it these days, remember when ClubCall was the best way to learn the latest news about your team and hear what England captain Steph Houghton gets up to in a typical week with Manchester City. Subscribe!