There’s little denying Joe Aribo has been a ‘questionable’ signing so far.
Early on we appealed on Ibrox Noise for time for the midfielder, given the talent we could evidently see – and furthermore the performances he was putting in for his country gave us the ‘Borna Barisic Fallacy’ – that is, a player, no matter how good, can take months, even years to settle into a new club.
In Barisic’s case it was mostly down to lacking a pre-season, but even he’d admit his start to 19/20 didn’t really inspire until ‘that’ goal in Paisley.
Since then he’s never looked back.
And then we come to Aribo – the blunt truth this lad, nice though he seems and hard though he clearly works for this team, has not won over the majority of fans.
He’s not a favourite – after the initial honeymoon period of uncertainty over him and benefit of the doubt that he ‘must be good’, fans have been a little underwhelmed by his contribution, citing his lack of impact, general quietness, sluggishness and overall ill-fitting guise.
He did show some lovely control on the ball, excellent work ethic off it, and a neat ability to steal the ball from opponents, as well as some impressive link up play in the final third, but overall, the bad seemed to outweigh the good for more fans than not and Aribo, reputation or otherwise, has definitely not convinced everyone yet he’s good enough.
Steven Gerrard, it must be said, has pulled a bit of a rabbit out of the hat by changing Aribo’s position. From central and attacking midfield, which the player professes is his favourite position, Stevie has switched him, bizarrely, to a seemingly poor-fitting right wing, and while we’d hardly say Arjen Robben now has competition, nevertheless the strange slot has certainly got more out of him than before.
We’re seeing more energy, more confidence, and the boy is getting more of the ball while working even harder.
Thanks to his position and concentration, Garcia got nary a sniff for Young Boys on Thursday, while in general Aribo’s link up play, creating, passing, and all round positional sense has seen a noticeably improvement from before.
It’s still an odd one – he isn’t a typical right winger nor does he even look ‘right’ there, but it is working a bit for the boy and giving him a better pedestal to make an impact from.
We wonder if it’s something Stevie will persist with long term.