Robin Van Persie and the 10 Best Debut Seasons Ever

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIMay 1, 2013

Robin Van Persie and the 10 Best Debut Seasons Ever

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    Some individual seasons are simply breathtaking.

    But when they happen in a player's debut season with a club, a league or even his career, we can do nothing but stand back and applaud the brilliance we just witnessed.

    As much as Arsenal and Manchester City fans won't want to admit it, we've seen one of those incredible debuts seasons with Robin van Persie at Manchester United—scoring goals by the bag-full and leading United back from a title-less season to one of their more dominant Premier League title victories.

    Read on to see some of the other great debut seasons in world football.

    Note: All statistics and details provided via Transfermarkt.

Honorable Mention: Ronaldo, Real Madrid

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    He might not make the top 10 here, but it's hard to count out the debut season of Ronaldo, who was simply electric upon his transfer from Inter Milan to Real Madrid.

    The Brazilian star netted 23 goals in La Liga during his first year and also chimed in with seven goals in European competition—becoming the team's top scorer for the season.

    Los Blancos would go on to win La Liga, the UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, with a quarterfinal and semifinal exit in the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League respectively—both of which are very strong performances indeed.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint Germain and AC Milan

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a deadly striker in world football, and a player that has shown throughout his career to have a deadly impact when he moves to a new club.

    He first showed it in 2010/11 when he moved from Barcelona to AC Milan, where he netted 14 goals and 13 assists in Serie A. The Swedish international also chimed in with three goals in the Coppa Italia and four goals in the Champions League—finishing as their leading scorer for the season.

    Milan would go on to win the Serie A that year, make the semifinals of the Coppa Italia and the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League—a feat that Ibrahimovic would better when he made the transfer from Milan to Paris Saint Germain, finishing in the quarterfinals of the European competition.

    Ibra netted three goals and seven assists in the Champions League this year, and had two goals and an assist in the Coupe de France. However, his greatest feat has been in Ligue 1, where he's scored 27 goals and nine assists to date, and has PSG on the brink of a French domestic title.

    Two stellar debut seasons from Ibrahimovic.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

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    Having made himself a household name in England thanks to his achievements at Manchester United, the expectations were high on Cristiano Ronaldo when he made his big-money move to Los Blancos.

    And the Portuguese international didn't disappoint in the slightest.

    Ronaldo would score 26 goals and 11 assists in La Liga despite only featuring in the starting team 28 times. He would also pick up seven goals and an assist in six Champions League games—showcasing just how important he was going to be to Madrid in the future.

    It might have been a trophy-less year for Los Blancos, but this was a stellar year for Ronaldo, who handled the hype and sensationalism around him superbly, and proved that he was indeed worth the millions of dollars that Madrid had spent to sign him in the first place.

    What he would achieve since then at the Bernabeu has been incredible, but you might argue that none of it would be possible without the confidence gained from his first season.

Fernando Torres, Liverpool

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    Fernando Torres has been much maligned since his big money move from Liverpool to Chelsea, but it was his debut season at Merseyside that showed just how dominant he could be, and justified his move from Spanish club Atletico Madrid.

    Torres' debut season in the Premier League saw him score an incredible 24 goals in 29 starting appearances—chalking up four assists to go with that also.

    He netted a hat-trick in the League Cup for Liverpool and contributed six goals in the Reds' Champions League campaign—which they would go on to very nearly make the final of, losing in extra time to Chelsea in the second leg of their thrilling semifinal.

    It was a debut season to remember for Torres, who hasn't posted similar numbers since.

Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid

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    Zinedine Zidane's transfer from Juventus to Real Madrid cost the club a then-record-setting €75 million in 2001—a figure the striker quickly repaid for Los Blancos.

    Madrid would win the Champions League (with Zidane scoring the game-winning goal) along with the Supercopa while finishing runners-up in the Copa del Rey and third in La Liga.

    He might have only finished with seven league goals, three domestic knock-out goals and three Champions League goals, but Zidane's impact was huge, with his transfer setting the precedence for Madrid's transfer policy throughout the early 2000's—the biggest reason behind their continued success.

Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool

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    Kenny Dalglish is a Liverpool legend, and was from the moment he set walked out at Anfield.

    In his first season at the Merseyside club, Dalglish would not only score more than 30 league goals, but also net the game-winning goal at the European Cup final.

    After filling in the boots of Kevin Keegan, Dalglish gave the Reds a new name to cheer, and established himself as a Reds icon forever—an image that still remains today for the King of the Kop.

Ruud van Nistelrooy, Manchester United

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    Ruud van Nistelrooy was brought into a very good United team and made it instantly better from the moment he first found the back of the net for the Red Devils.

    The striker scored 23 Premier League goals in his debut season for the Red Devils; two FA Cup goals and 10 Champions League goals—becoming the tournament's top goal-scorer despite the fact that United did not make the final that year.

    Ruud van Nistelrooy finished as their top scorer for the season in all competitions, and showed that he could spearhead a United attack towards great success for years to come.

    Which he most certainly did.

Alan Shearer, Newcastle United

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    Alan Shearer was already a legend thanks to his time at Blackburn Rovers when he made his way to Newcastle United in 1996. He was, after all, one of the top strikers in the Premier League and had proven himself to be a genuine goal-scoring threat, and that continued the second he put on the black and white.

    Shearer netted 25 goals and two assists in his first season with the Magpies—a mark that he would never reach again at the club despite his continued success.

    He allowed the Magpies to deal with the resignation of their manager mid-season, and was the sole reason behind their second-placed finish in the Premier League. Newcastle also reached the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup that season.

David Beckham, LA Galaxy

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    This list isn't in any order, but if I was to pick a player's debut season that was the "best", David Beckham's move to the Los Angeles Galaxy would be pretty close.

    It wasn't that he scored goals or showed the skills that people remember him displaying when playing for Manchester United or Real Madrid. It was the sheer fact that because of Beckham, people in the United States started to come out and watch domestic soccer once more.

    Beckham's first season in L.A. had crowds excited about the MLS once more, and began to change the perception of American soccer that many had in mind. It also paved the way for several big-name players to come to the MLS in the future.

    Hard to argue for that in your first year at a new club.

Robin van Persie, Manchester United

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    The achievements of Robin van Persie this year have been spectacular.

    He has taken United from being trophy-less to back in the winners circle, with one of their most dominant Premier League titles in recent history—proving to Manchester City that they are once again the team to beat in Manchester and the best team in England.

    But it's more than just his total goals this season; it's been the timing as well, with Van Persie key in bringing United back from games they otherwise would have lost.

    Van Persie has 29 goals and 13 assists for the Red Devils this year, and the season isn't even over. Talk about making your presence felt immediately.

Eric Cantona, Manchester United

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    Eric Cantona's first season at Manchester United was simply outstanding, and it's as good a place as any to end a list discussing the best debut years.

    Before Cantona arrived, United were 10th in the Premier League.

    After he arrived, they were 10 points clear in first and had won their first English title in 28 years—sparking the start of one of the greatest dynasties in world football.

    All for just £1.2 million.


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