Following on from our assessment of Steven Davis, next under the microscope in our series of Rangers Half-Term Reports, is Joe Aribo.
The Gers signed Aribo for a bargain fee of around £300,000 from Charlton Athletic in the summer, despite the protests of bitter Addicks manager, Lee Bowyer, who felt the 23-year-old wouldn’t develop in Scotland [Daily Record].
How wrong he was.
Initially, against relatively weak opposition in Europa League Qualifiers and in the League Cup, the new signing stood out in central midfield.
He was clearly confident on the ball and had an eye for goal, netting four times in his first eight competitive appearances.
However, when his first big test came in the Old Firm at Ibrox in September, he struggled.
Played slightly out of position on the left side, he failed to adapt to the physicality of the game and the intensity of the atmosphere and was subbed off in the second half.
At club level, his confidence appeared to take a bit of a knock after that and he was criticised by some supporters. The goals dried up and he struggled for starts with Kamara, Davis and Jack running the midfield.
In late October, though, he returned to form with an influential display at Ross County, and ten days later, he scored at Livingston.
Then came the decision to move him into the attacking right slot.
With the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Scott Arfield struggling to contribute, Gerrard looked to solve what had been a problematic position, by giving his summer signing a creative license. He hasn’t looked back since.
Excellent performances against Young Boys and Hibernian preceded a much improved Old Firm display on 29th December.
Seemingly much more comfortable in this advanced role, Aribo has looked to take on defenders and create opportunities, while still working hard defensively when required.
In total, he’s made a whopping 32 appearances, scoring six times and registering seven assists [Transfermarkt]. There’s room for improvement there, but it’s certainly a good effort when trying to find your feet at a new club.
The ex-Charlton man joined the club as a talented but raw midfielder, seeking a new challenge. After just a few months in Scotland, he’s become an established international with Nigeria and is now blossoming into a key performer for a team who are looking to make waves both on the domestic and European scene.