8 Premier League Players Desperate to Avoid Second Season Syndrome in 2018/19 After Fine Debut Year

7 min


Santi Cazorla, Diego Costa and Dimitri Payet are just two examples of Premier League stars who have suffered from the dreaded ‘Second Season Syndrome’ over the last five years, notoriously afflicting players who have enjoyed fine debut years upon arriving at English clubs from abroad but failed to replicate that form the following campaign.

Here’s a look at eight player desperate to avoid that fate this season…

*Only players who arrived from leagues outside England and enjoyed strong debut campaigns in 2017/18 have been considered for selection – that means no Harry Maguire, for example, as he joined current club Leicester from Hull.

8. Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield)

Huddersfield got it right in the transfer market last summer, with overseas imports Mathias Jorgensen, Laurent Depoitre and Steve Mounie all playing crucial roles as the Terriers beat the odds to avoid relegation and stay in the Premier League.

Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, who formerly replaced Loris Karius as Mainz number one, was also a huge reason behind their survival. The Danish international played every minute of the Premier League season and was even named the club’s Player of the Month for December.

Now that his loan from Mainz is permanent, Lossl will be hoping for more of the same.

7. Callum Paterson (Cardiff)

Cardiff signed versatile midfielder Callum Paterson as a free agent from Scottish side Hearts last summer, but a long-term knee injury that he was already carrying meant the player was unable to make his debut until late October.

Despite that initial layoff, Paterson found his feet in the Championship and scored 10 goals in only 32 appearances to help the Bluebirds secure the second automatic promotion spot behind champions Wolves.

A similarly efficient campaign in his second season in south Wales will be crucial for survival.

6. Ruben Neves (Wolves)

It was a massive shock when Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves traded Porto for Wolves last summer, having previously captained his former club in the Champions League at the age of just 18.

Neves was a revelation in the Championship, with his technical brilliance driving Wolves back to the Premier League for the first time since 2012. That led to Player of the Year gongs from both fans and his Molineux teammates, while he also won Goal of the Season.

Given that the club is now playing at a higher level, consistency will be even more important.

5. Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)

The arrival of Slovakian goalkeeper Martin Dubravka on loan in January coincided with an upturn in fortunes for Newcastle that ultimately resulted in the Magpies finishing last season in 10th place after briefly flirting with relegation.

Dubravka was the star of the show on his debut in a 1-0 win over Manchester United in early February and later conceded just twice in further victories against Southampton, Huddersfield, Leicester, Arsenal and Chelsea.

The Slovakian saw his loan deal made permanent two weeks after the season finished.

4. Pascal Groß (Brighton)

Pascal Groß arrived at Brighton from German club Ingolstadt last summer as statistically the most creative player in the Bundesliga during the 2016/17 season and he showed every bit of that as the Seagulls successfully avoided an immediate drop back to the Championship.

Groß finished the campaign with seven goals and eight assists to his name, directly involved in more goals over the course of the season than any other Brighton player. He led assists, while only Glenn Murray found the net more often.

Several new faces have joined the Seagulls squad this summer to provide more support.

3. Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham)

Few probably expected Davinson Sanchez to justify his £42m transfer fee as quickly as he did after joining Tottenham from Ajax last summer, but the Colombian youngster was handed an opportunity as Toby Alderweireld struggled with injury and took it with both hands.

Speed and strength make Sanchez well suited for the Premier League, with many anticipating that maturity and improved decision making will soon make him one of the best central defenders anywhere in the world.

Fans will hope the World Cup and a delayed summer break hasn’t negatively impacted him.

2. Ederson (Manchester City)

Manchester City rolled the dice and won when they signed Ederson for £34m last summer, a goalkeeper with just one full season of top flight experience to his name, with the the Brazilian nothing less than a revelation between the sticks.

Ederson replaced the previously hopeless Claudio Bravo as number one and gave City a new found defensive confidence. His ability on the ball also fitted perfectly with manager Pep Guardiola’s demands to build play from the back.

A lack of action for Brazil at the World Cup should leave him well prepared for 2018/19.

1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Mohamed Salah could not have wished for a better debut season at Liverpool on his return to England, finishing the campaign with 44 total goals, the Premier League Golden Boot and PFA, FWA and Premier League Player of the Year awards.

The biggest challenge for the ‘Egyptian King’ is now to reach that level again in 2018/19. He’ll have to find a new level as there will be a target on his back, while opponents should also have wised up over summer and be more prepared to stop him.

The very best players rise above it every time and this season is decisive for Salah.

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