Erling Haaland’s first season in the Premier League has appeared a one-man quest to break every goalscoring record in the book.
Haaland has produced a phenomenal goal return since signing for Manchester City last summer, breaking several records with more expected to tumble before the end of the current campaign. The division’s leading scorer – and by some distance – it’s been one of the most prolific debut seasons in Premier League history.
Here are the eight players with the most goals in their debut season in the Premier League.
Les Ferdinand (Queens Park Rangers) – 20 goals – 1992/93 (42-game season)
Les Ferdinand was one of the finest forwards of the early Premier League era, as he racked 60 goals for Queens Park Rangers across the first three seasons of the relaunched top flight. Ferdinand ended the Premier League’s inaugural campaign as runner-up for the Golden Boot, having hit 20 goals to fire QPR to a fifth-place finish. Only twice in their history have The Rs finished higher in a top-flight season.
Ferdinand later signed for Newcastle and was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year during his debut season at St James’ Park, after scoring 25 league goals in 1995/96. It was the highest scoring league season of Ferdinand’s career.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 1, 2018
Teddy Sheringham (Nottingham Forest/Tottenham) – 22 goals – 1992/93 (42-game season)
Ferdinand missed out on the 1992/93 Golden Boot to Teddy Sheringham, who ended the first Premier League campaign as the division’s leading scorer. Sheringham began the season at Nottingham Forest and scored the first ever televised Premier League goal, before signing for Spurs a week later.
He ended his first season in north London with 21 goals in 38 games, adding to the one scored at Forest. Sheringham later won three league titles, the FA Cup, and the Champions League during a successful spell at Manchester United and holds the Premier League records as the oldest outfield player (40 years, 272 days) and the oldest Premier League goalscorer (40 years, 268 days).
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 4, 2017
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – 23 goals – 2011/12
Sergio Aguero made an instant impact during his first season at Manchester City, beginning with a dream debut as the forward came off the bench to score twice against Swansea at the Etihad.
The Argentine continued to fire across the remainder of the 2011/12 campaign, with his most memorable goal coming with virtually the last kick of the season. City’s hopes of a first Premier League title appeared to be fading fast as Roberto Mancini’s side trailed to QPR on the final day, but two goals in stoppage time – including Aguero’s famous winner – crowned the club champions in dramatic fashion.
None more so famous than this one… pic.twitter.com/gfDdubK4ph
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 15, 2021
Aguero spent a decade at Manchester City and became the club’s all-time record goalscorer (260), while he is also the highest scoring overseas player in Premier League history (184).
Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) – 23 goals – 2001/02
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s move to the Premier League was delayed due to a serious knee issue, but Sir Alex Ferguson was convinced that the Dutch forward was the man to spearhead the Manchester United attack.
Ferguson’s patience paid off handsomely, as Van Nistelrooy plundered 23 league goals during his debut season to win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award. Van Nistelrooy’s return set a then-record for the highest scoring debut season from an overseas star, while the goals continued to flow freely across five seasons at Old Trafford.
He scored 150 goals in 219 games across all competitions, won a clean sweep of domestic trophies, a Premier League Golden Boot, and finished as the Champions League’s leading scorer on three occasions.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool) – 24 goals – 2007/08
Van Nistelrooy’s record for a foreign footballer lasted until the 2007/08 campaign, when Fernando Torres tormented Premier League defences during a stunning start at Liverpool.
Torres arrived in a club-record deal from Atletico Madrid and wasted no time in becoming a fans’ favourite, marking his home debut with a goal against Chelsea to kick-start an explosive campaign.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 23, 2023
El Niño racked up 33 goals in all competitions, 24 of which came in the Premier League as he ended the campaign as runner-up for the Golden Boot. He became the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler in 1995/96 to score 20+ league goals in a season.
Torres’ finest football came across three-and-a-half seasons at Liverpool, in which he scored 81 goals in 142 appearances. He moved on to Chelsea in a £50m British record deal in 2011, but failed to produce the same goal return despite lifting team honours including the 2012 Champions League.
Erling Haaland (Manchester City) – 28 goals* – 2022/23
Erling Haaland’s debut season at Manchester City is already the highest scoring from a foreign footballer, while he ranks third overall for first season returns with 11 games still to go.
Haaland’s haul has included a record-breaking three consecutive home hat-tricks, the third of which came in a 6-3 thrashing of Manchester United.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 11, 2023
It’s been a season of records for the Norwegian, whose list of landmarks already includes.
- Most goals in first five Premier League appearances – 9
- Fastest player to reach 10 Premier League goals – 6 games
- Fastest player to score three Premier League hat-tricks – 8 games
- Fastest player to score four Premier League hat-tricks – 19 games
- First player to score in seven successive Premier League games for Manchester City
- First player to have five goal involvements in a Manchester derby
- Fastest player to score 20 goals in a Premier League season – 14 games
- Fastest player to score 25 Premier League goals – 19
More are expected to follow before the end of the campaign, with Mohamed Salah’s goal record for a 38-game Premier League season (32) now firmly in his sights.
Kevin Phillips (Sunderland) – 30 goals – 1999/00
Kevin Phillips’ first season of Premier League football remains a remarkable tale, as the Sunderland striker ripped up the script during an iconic individual campaign.
Phillips had been a prolific presence in the lower divisions, but arrived in the Premier League with doubts over his credentials at the top level.
“One of the biggest things for me was having people say that I wouldn’t score goals in the Premier League,” Phillips recalled, as per the Sunderland Echo.
“That was another challenge for me, to prove them wrong, which I’d had to do all my career really. One in particular was Rodney Marsh, who had come out and said that he didn’t think I’d score more than five in the Premier League.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 25, 2022
“No one really rankled me in my career but that one comment really did, and I was desperate to prove him wrong.”
Phillips silenced his doubters in stunning style as a 30-goal campaign fired the newly-promoted Black Cats to a seventh-placed finish under Peter Reid. His return earned the forward the Premier League’s Golden Boot, while he outscored the rest of Europe to win the European Golden Shoe. He remains the only Englishman to have won the award.
Andy Cole (Newcastle) – 34 goals – 1993/94 (42-game season)
Andy Cole holds the record for the highest scoring debut season in the Premier League, following a free-scoring campaign at Newcastle in 1993/94.
Cole had helped the Magpies to promotion the previous season, before Kevin Keegan’s team thrived in the top division to finish third and secure UEFA Cup qualification. Newcastle’s success was built on the prolific form of Cole, who struck 34 league goals to win the Premier League’s Golden Boot and PFA Young Player of the Year award.
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 29, 2017
The forward also ended the season as the Premier League’s leading assist provider and is one of just four players to have led the division for goals and assists in the same campaign, alongside Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah.