Which players have reached a half century of Premier League goals the quickest? How much quicker was Erling Haaland than the second-fastest player to 50 Premier League goals? We assess the data from across the history of the competition.
Erling Haaland: 48 Games
What happens if you take the best team in England, who score goals for fun without a recognised striker, and add Europe’s most lethal goalscorer? Well, that’s exactly the experiment that Manchester City embarked on when they signed Erling Haaland in 2022.
The big Norwegian started off life in the Premier League with purpose, scoring twice on debut at West Ham, and he has carried on scoring at an unprecedented pace just about ever since. He has broken record after record since arriving in England and now, just 48 games into his Premier League career, he has smashed a record held by Andy Cole for some 28 years for the fewest games needed to reach 50 goals.
Playing for a dominant City side, Haaland needed 17 games fewer than any other player in the history of the competition to reach his Premier League half-century.
No player has reached 10 goals (six games), 20 goals (14 games), 30 goals (27 games) or 40 goals (39 games) in fewer appearances than the Norwegian, while Haaland’s 36-goal tally in the 2022-23 Premier League campaign – his first in England – broke the record for the most goals in a single Premier League season.
Andrew Cole: 65 Games
The match between Manchester United and Ipswich Town in March 1995 saw more than one Premier League record broken. Man Utd won the game 9-0, becoming the first team to score nine goals in a Premier League match, while striker Andrew Cole grabbed five of them to take him to 50 Premier League goals.
Cole had been going through something of a lean spell, having only scored five goals in his last 19 games in the competition before this match at Old Trafford, but his fifth of the afternoon took him to 50 in Premier League in just his 65th appearance – the quickest-ever player to the landmark. He was also the first player to score five goals in a Premier League match, while he became the first to do so in the English top flight since Tony Woodcock in October 1983 for Arsenal versus Aston Villa.
Cole – who had scored 43 Premier League goals in 58 games for Newcastle United before heading to Manchester – ended his Premier League career with 187 goals, while it took him 120 games to score another 50 and reach 100 in the competition – his total of 185 games to score 100 Premier League goals is the joint-ninth quickest.
Alan Shearer: 66 Games
No article on Premier League goalscoring records would be complete without an appearance from the leading scorer in the history of the competition and one of the greatest top-flight goalscorers of all time.
Alan Shearer became the first player to reach 50 goals in the Premier League versus Everton in September 1994, before adding a penalty later in the game for number 51.
The former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle striker saw Cole beat this 66-game record by one appearance just six months later, but he won the race to the century in the competition – netting 100 goals inside his first 124 games in the competition. That’s 17 games quicker than any other centurion in Premier League history.
Shearer ended his career with a record 260 Premier League goals, with an additional 23 in the top flight before the introduction of the Premier League in 1992. His overall tally of 283 top-flight goals is the fifth most in English league history.
Ruud van Nistelrooy: 68 Games
Coming in a close fourth is Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who scored his opening 50 Premier League goals inside 68 appearances.
He reached his half-century in August 2003 thanks to a goal against Newcastle, the first Manchester United goal in a 2-1 comeback win after Alan Shearer had opened the scoring for the hosts at St James’ Park.
That 50th goal was the 10th successive Premier League appearance that Van Nistelrooy scored in for United, breaking a competition record. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, he failed to score in his next appearance versus Wolves just four days later and eventually saw Jamie Vardy break his record with an 11-game scoring run between August and November 2015 for Leicester City.
Van Nistelrooy left the Premier League after five seasons with Manchester United and will be forever stuck on 95 goals in 150 appearances. Only three players hit the century of Premier League goals in fewer than 160 games – a bit longer in England and Van Nistelrooy could have ranked highly for this statistic, too.
While he might only be the fourth quickest to 50 Premier League goals, he holds the record for the fewest appearances to reach 50 goals in the UEFA Champions League (62), which was four games faster than Lionel Messi (66).
Fernando Torres: 72 Games
Many might forget just how impressive Fernando Torres was in the Premier League in his opening three seasons. He set the record for the fastest Liverpool player to reach 50 Premier League goals, while his 72-game effort is the fifth quickest among all Premier League players.
Torres reached the 50-goal landmark in the Premier League in December 2009 versus Aston Villa, and eventually ended his Liverpool career with 65 goals in 102 league appearances.
Following a £50 million transfer to Chelsea in January 2011, Torres’ goals dried up. He scored just 20 times in 110 Premier League appearances for the London club, with his minutes-per-goal ratio falling from 121 minutes at Liverpool to 340 minutes per goal at Chelsea.
Mohamed Salah: 72 Games
Mohamed Salah equalled Torres’s 72-game record with a brace in Liverpool’s stunning 4-3 comeback win over Crystal Palace at Anfield in January 2019.
The Egyptian forward’s second goal of the game saw him reach 50 in the Premier League, with 48 of those coming in a Liverpool shirt after two previous goals for Chelsea in 2014.
While Salah may have taken 72 appearances to reach 50 Premier League goals, until Haaland came along, he held the record for the fastest Premier League player to 50 goals in terms of minutes played, reaching 50 inside just 5,374 minutes. Haaland smashed that record, too, reaching his 50 in just 3,827 minutes.
Until the 2022-23 campaign, Salah also held the record for the most goals in a 38-game Premier League season (32), and recently became Liverpool’s all-time top Premier League goalscorer, overtaking Robbie Fowler’s tally of 128 goals for the club.
The Next Quickest to 50 Premier League Goals
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 79 games
Sergio Agüero: 81 games
Thierry Henry: 83 games
Kevin Phillips: 83 games
Diego Costa: 85 games