There is nothing that quite whets the appetite of football fans more than a new signing.
Anticipation builds as you get the opportunity to see the new man in action. Some exceed all expectations, whilst others greatly disappoint.
Then, of course, is the rare case of the ‘one-season wonder.’ The Premier League era has been scattered with players who burst into the consciousness with scintillating displays, only to fade back in obscurity.
We’ve decided to celebrate five of the best, Premier League ‘one-season wonders’…
5. Amr Zaki – Wigan Athletic – 2008/09
The unheralded forward arrived on-loan in Lancashire in the summer of 2008, and immediately hit the ground running. Possessing a hulking figure, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan compared the Egyptian to Alan Shearer and at first his comparison did not quite seem as ridiculous as it does now.
Zaki scored on his debut, and started with four in four before truly announcing himself with a double against Liverpool, including a spectacular overhead kick, at Anfield. Zaki had scored 10 goals in first 16 appearances for Wigan, but from there it all went wrong.
The forward failed to return to Wigan following international duty with Egypt, and was labelled by Wigan manager Steve Bruce as the most unprofessional player he had ever worked with. Zaki’s discipline failed to improve, and Wigan decided against making his move permanent.
Zaki never hit those heights again at spells with seven clubs, including another loan spell in England at Hull City.
4. Marcus Stewart – Ipswich Town – 2000/01
Perhaps unfair on a player who enjoyed a fairly prolific career, albeit within the lower leagues.
There is, however, no doubting that the 2000/01 season was the peak of Marcus Stewart’s career.
Few fancied Ipswich to have much chance of survival after being promoted via the play-offs the previous season, but fired by Stewart’s goals George Burley’s side incredibly finished 5th, qualifying for the UEFA Cup for the first time since 1982.
Stewart finished as the division’s second-highest goalscorer with 19, with calls for the forward to be called into the England squad.
Stewart never won an England cap, and scored just six league goals the following year as Ipswich were relegated.
3. Robinho – Manchester City – 2008/09
The signing that truly announced Manchester City as a major force, Sheikh Mansour celebrated his takeover of the club by signing Brazilian star Robinho from Real Madrid for a British-record £32.5m.
Robinho started his maiden campaign in English football in style, scoring on his debut against Chelsea before later hitting his first hat-trick for the club against Stoke City.
He finished the season as City’s top scorer with 14 league goals, though failed to again replicate that form the following year.
Injuries and loss of form saw the Brazilian make just 10 goalless league appearances, and he requested a move away from the club. He left for Milan in 2010, and spells in Brazil, China and Turkey have followed without ever reproducing the form of his early career.
For a player once named as his ‘heir’ by Pele, it is a story of what might have been.
2. Roque Santa Cruz – Blackburn Rovers – 2007/08
A player signed with great pedigree having spent seven seasons at German giants Bayern Munich, Blackburn Rovers fans were excited about the addition of the powerful Paraguayan.
Their excitement seemed to be justified when Santa Cruz plundered 19 league goals in just 37 appearances in his first season at Ewood Park, with Mark Hughes’ side just missing out on Europe with a 7th-placed finish.
That was as good as it got for Santa Cruz, as injuries disrupted his following season and he scored just four league goals. That second season wasn’t enough to put off Manchester City though, who forked out £17.5m to take Santa Cruz to the Etihad in an attempt to reinvigorate him.
They didn’t, and he left having scored just three league goals for the club.
1. Michu – Swansea City – 2012/13
If there is ever a player who will be perennially labelled as a ‘one-season wonder’, then it is Michu.
Signed as a relative unknown by Swansea from Rayo Vallecano in 2012, the Spaniard lit up the Premier League in his debut season.
Having scored twice on his debut in a 5-0 thrashing of QPR, and the attacking midfielder didn’t stop scoring. He hit 22 goals in all competitions for the Welsh side, including the second as Swansea lifted their first major trophy with a 5-0 win over Bradford City in the League Cup final.
Rumours of a big-money move to the likes of Arsenal followed, though he remained in South Wales where injuries and inconsistency hampered him. Just two further league goals followed in 2013/14, before he departed on-loan to Napoli where he made just six appearances.
He never again reached the heights of that debut season at Swansea, and retired in 2017 aged just 31.