What went so wrong at Southampton for former Rangers star Joe Aribo?

What went so wrong at Southampton for former Rangers star Joe Aribo?
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Joe Aribo of Southampton in action during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and West Ham United at Friends Provident St. Mary's Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Our article yesterday was wildly misunderstood as a play for the return of Joe Aribo, when, sorry, nothing could further from the truth. We were talking about Michael Beale and his ability to find formations, having before done that very thing using the Nigeria man – this was misunderstood as our hopes to get Aribo back.

We do not want Aribo back, and that brings us onto this piece – just why did he fail so badly in the Premier League?

Originally, Rangers beat off Aston Villa to sign the-then League One star, widely-regarded as just about the best player in England’s third tier. Lee Bowyer was far from happy to lose his pivotal player, as you will recall.

And his Rangers move worked out fairly well for Joe, making a Europa League final among other things, and of course, winning 55.

But he absolutely flopped in England with Southampton, and with a number of Rangers fans wanting him back at Ibrox, we’d like to say ‘absolutely not’. Having previously been modestly open to the idea, the door, for Ibrox Noise, is now slammed firmly shut.


Rangers are evolving, we are trying to improve – going with a player who absolutely bombed with Southampton and got relegated as well is not the right direction at all.

See, Aribo looked like he had the toolset to rampage in the Premier League – big, strong, quick, nimble, could score. He’d thrived in the Europa League and even scored a goal in the final.

So he was going to tear up the Premier League, and get his move from Southampton Virgil van Dijk-style to a top 6 club quickly enough.

Only, it didn’t work out that way. Why?

Because he’s not that quick, not that strong, not as nimble as we thought and can’t really score – he absolutely cannot assist either.

At least, not in the Premier League. The Europa League is a million miles below the Premier League in quality, and indeed even the Champions League these days probably is fractionally below England’s top flight as well.

To succeed there you have to be a truly top player, and Aribo was completely found out at that level. He found it too quick, too strong, too high in quality and he absolutely drowned there. It is such a leap from the Scottish Premiership and indeed Europa League that he couldn’t cope. The Championship is much more his level.

Todd Cantwell, nearly 50 appearances in the Premier League, market value of £30M only 18 months ago – HE is the quality in that position that we need, and we have him. Joe Aribo would be a staggering downgrade compared with that.

Many of you readers are probably thinking about what Aribo did for Rangers and how he’s already proven himself good enough. But the reality is do we actually want to go with a player who patently failed in England? Maybe some of you do. And he is a lovely bloke truly.

But if one compares Cantwell with him, it’s no contest.

Aribo had 149 appearances for Rangers – 26 goals, 25 assists. Ryan Kent had 218, 33 goals and 56 assists. A slightly better record in goals from the winger, and much better in assists. Yet the fans who want Aribo back couldn’t have gotten rid of Kent quick enough.

There’s also one more thing – Aribo left to be closer to his family in London – Southampton is a better commute, so there’s little chance he’d even want back to Ibrox anyway.

No, sadly he isn’t good enough – we need better now.

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