While anyone can list many of the best footballers to ply their trade in the Premier League since its inception just under three decades ago, there is arguably a more entertaining discussion to be had about talent that is often forget it.
The exploits of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Steven Gerrard have been dissected over and over again, but for every Henry there’s a Michu, every Ronaldo an Amr Zaki, and every Gerrard a Robinho.
The cult status that some of the lesser-known talents arriving on these shores have acquired after a single campaign of excellence is remarkable, such is the power of a season’s wonder.
That being said, Star Sport has looked at seven of the most talented players to strut in such a short time …
1 – Michu
In the eyes of many, the wonder of a most iconic season of all. Signed from Spain team Rayo Vallecano in the summer window of 2012, Swansea was climbing high after surviving his first Premier League campaign.
What happened the following quarter is etched in the memories of all who witnessed it, with Michu scoring a brace on his debut as the Welsh side beat QPR 5-0, with the Spaniard recording also an assist.
Quick to prove it wasn’t fluke, Michu went on to find the net six times in his first eight games, with seven more bringing his tally to 13 heading into the Christmas season.
A new four-year deal soon followed, such was Swansea’s desperation to keep the forward at Liberty Stadium.
Michu’s League Cup scoring exploits helped the Swans win their very first major trophy, but his second season would be remarkably short of his first campaign.
He will eventually fail to complete the full four years of his deal, reaching an agreement in the last year to return to his home country.
2 – Robinho
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Famously quoted as saying he thought he was signing for Manchester United, Robinho’s time in Manchester’s blue half did not go as well as hoped.
However, the Brazilian hit the mark in his first tenure at the Etihad, scoring 14 goals and even earning the right to don the captain’s armband in the absence of Richard Dunne.
Oddly, as City continued on their upward trajectory, Robinho’s action seemed to fall more than ever.
His second season saw him missing out on the net for 10 games heading into the festive match period, before being allowed to return to Brazil on loan with Santos.
The temporary move was successful, so much so that AC Milan were ready to take a kick out of the forward, who joined the Italian giants in a deal that saw City win less than half of what ‘they paid for the striker in 2008.
3 – Benjani
Unlike the aforementioned duo, Benjani actually started their time in England very slowly, with little to note for their opening campaign before exploding into life the following season.
After scoring just six goals in his debut campaign for Portsmouth in 2006/07, his efforts in 2007/08 saw Benjani reach more than double that number, including two hat tricks.
Newly cash-rich Man City won the race for his signing, although it was bad news for the forward himself, who was so against the move that he deliberately missed two steals for Manchester in the goal. to defeat the agreement.
His attempts were unsuccessful and a deal was struck soon after.
It’s unclear whether his desire to be almost anywhere else had an impact on his performances, but it certainly came out that way, scoring just four goals for City before leaving two years later for Blackburn Rovers.
4 – Amr Zaki
A division name among Wigan’s loyalists, Zaki’s attitude, rather than his talent, would lead to his demise for the Latics.
One of the few on this list never to be permanently signed, Wigan paid Zamalek £ 1.5million to loan out the Egyptian for a season that has seen both good and bad. attacker’s side.
After scoring in double digits in terms of goals ahead of the New Year, Zaki made Wigan’s faithful drool over the idea of keeping him for the long haul.
However, things quickly turned sour, after his late return from international duty four times, which led to some pretty damning quotes from then-manager Steve Bruce.
“I just think it’s time we made public the nightmare he had to face,” the former Latics boss said.
“I can honestly say that in all my time in football I have never worked with someone so unprofessional.”
Zaki spent the following season on loan at Hull, before fleeing to Turkey.
5 – Asamoah Gyan
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Africa pin-up for the 2010 World Cup, Gyan put himself on the map with a string of stellar performances for Ghana on the biggest stage of all.
His heartbreaking penalty against Uruguay would prove crucial as his country failed in their efforts to become the first African team to reach the last four at a World Cup.
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However, Sunderland was not put off as they shelled out £ 13million to lure Gyan from France side Rennes in the same season.
After scoring 11 goals and five assists in his debut campaign, the forward was attracting all kinds of interest, causing him to lose focus on the Black Cats.
Apparently a magnet for finicky players, Steve Bruce was Gyan’s boss at the Stadium of Light, where he conceded “Anyone who’s seen Asamoah play will know he hasn’t been himself the past few months”, before the Ghanaian only spends pocketing more than four times his Sunderland salary at Emirati club Al Ain, spending only one season playing in front of Sunderland loyalists.
6 – Roque Santa Cruz
Heads are often turned when someone trades Bayern Munich for Blackburn, but that’s exactly what Santa Cruz did after Mark Hughes paid the Bundesliga giants £ 3.5million for his services.
The forward had spent eight years at Munich, but never scored more than five goals in a single season, meaning no one foresaw what was to come when it finally turned out at Ewood Park.
19 goals in his debut campaign, Santa Cruz shocked everyone with how quickly he came to life in England, though it had to be a feat never repeated by the Paraguayan striker, who would fail to hit the double numbers in his following seasons in Europe.
His second season saw him find the net four times, but Hughes, who had recently joined Man City, stuck with the striker and opted to bring him to Eithad for $ 17.5million. of pounds sterling.
The deal turned out to be a flop, with Santa Cruz scoring just three Premier League goals for City.
7 – Andy Johnson
Although Johnson has spent much of his career in the Premier League, his exploits in 2004/05 were of the kind almost impossible to recreate.
41% of his England goals came in this campaign alone for Crystal Palace, only topped with the golden shoe by Arsenal’s Thierry Henry.
21 league goals for Johnson sparked interest from Everton, who would save the striker from a long-term future in the league, as despite his best efforts, the England international was unable to prevent the Eagles from fall, finishing 18th.
11 goals for the Toffees make one wonder if his form in front of goal had dried up, before he enjoyed a more productive spell at Fulham two years later.
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