Southampton’s Joe Aribo and his potential return to Rangers

Southampton’s Joe Aribo and his potential return to Rangers
LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Joe Aribo of Rangers celebrates after he scores his team's second goal during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Livingston FC and Rangers FC at on November 28, 2021 in Livingston, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Joe Aribo is being spoken of a return to Rangers today, as the Southampton midfielder struggles to find his place in football following a horrible spell in the Premier League at St Mary’s.

The Saints are willing to cut their losses with the Nigerian, it hasn’t worked out for either party, and Rangers won’t get any more than the initial £6M then-manager Ralph Hassenhuttl shelled out for him. It isn’t going to rise close to the £10M addons fee.

But there are a number of factors to consider regarding this potential transfer.

Firstly is the admission three years ago, prior to 55, that then assistant manager Michael Beale made, regarding building the entire system around the ex-Charlton man. It worked. Rangers won the title that season with the best football we’ve seen at Ibrox for a very, very long time.

Aribo was a massive part of that.

So if there’s one man who absolutely knows how to build around Aribo, it’s Beale.

However, Aribo, significantly, left Rangers to be closer to home, to London and his family. He did not leave on ambition levels, he left because he missed his loved ones and wanted to be closer to them.

On that level, he will be happier where he is, because while Southampton is still a bit from London, it’s a much lesser commute.

But on a football level, he’s never been less happy than he is now – he is barely on the fringes at St Mary’s, it hasn’t worked out, and he doesn’t fit their team at all.

Ibrox Noise has suggested he’s just not been good enough for the step up to Premier League level, and that may well be the case, but he thrived for Rangers in both the Scottish Premiership and in the Europa League.

While we want players who improve us, having one or two who already are good enough for the level we want to get to, which is more like 55 and Sevilla, wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Fee? He’d cost barely £3M tops, he’s surplus at St Mary’s now and will be seeking a move this summer.

Of course, if he can get another London-based club that would be ideal, but few will be interested in taking a chance on him even in the Championship. While Southampton are doomed, we’re not sure his place would even be assured in England’s second tier for them. His stock is low.

Is this move realistic? It absolutely is. Whether Beale and Aribo would want it though is another matter entirely.

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