It’s with a heavy heart we write this piece, and regulars know we generally rate this guy highly, but with now well over a year and a half into his Rangers career and no sign of consistency or performance, we do have to wonder what the future holds for Joe Aribo.
Stevie has always backed up certain players, and we look at his defence of Tavernier and how he’s bloomed.
But that was just over a year ago, and Tavernier took less than 10 months after that backing to hit the heights we never knew him capable of.
There’s also Borna Barisic, who Stevie was less defensive of, even being critical at one point early in his career – but he stuck with him and 15 months after he joined, the Croat finally got going and is now a world class star.
But there is a time limit on this stuff.
Even Gerrard cannot keep using a player a year and a half after he signed him with no obvious consistency or performance levels in sight.
We should say we like Aribo a lot, he’s a very gifted player, with excellent close control and power on the ball – but he’s rarely delivering that in big games, and indeed against Celtic had a horrific match, and not for the first time against that opponent.
It’s almost certainly mental in his case – for whatever reason, he recedes into himself in the bigger games and doesn’t trust himself.
And the close control isn’t there as a result, and the runs into the box go quiet.
A year and a half on, still the Nigerian international is yet to truly show us the kind of development, say, that Glen Kamara has.
The Fin joined in January of 2019, and while he was a little patchy till summer 2020, that there is the year and a half max. But of course, the split of 2019 had shown just what Kamara could do, so we saw it in a concentrated spell of matches. And we saw it for his country too.
Whereas Aribo has shown only in fleeting glimpses for his club his quality.
The former Charlton man is an odd one. He has all the tools to be a top, top player, but something just doesn’t want to click for him.
He lacks pace, he’s not great in the air for one so big, and we’re still not quite sure what his best position is.
At the moment, Ianis Hagi is offering a great deal more.
We’re not labelling Aribo a failure, but 18 months is certainly testing a lot of fans’ patience now.