The long-awaited arrival of Joe Aribo to Ibrox has finally been announced and it means that Steven Gerrard has an incredibly deep talent pool to choose from for his three midfield slots.
Aribo is something a coup for Gerrard- as he fended off reported interest from the Premier League, Bundesliga and Benfica, as per The Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke– and could be the missing piece in the Rangers midfield puzzle. Ryan Jack’s game was taken up a level by the January arrival of Glen Kamara from Dundee in a staggeringly cheap deal but they never seemed to have a third midfielder of similar quality to work with.
The likes of Steve Davis, Andy Halliday, Graham Dorrans and Ross McCrorie haven’t shown regularly enough that they are ready to fill the third midfield role and Scott Arfield was better when pushed into a wider left-hand side berth. The returning Greg Docherty had an impressive spell at Shrewsbury but might not be quite ready to play week-in-week-out at a club with the attached pressure of Rangers just yet.
Now that Aribo has arrived in Glasgow it might just bring that missing element to Gerrard’s team, giving them the one major thing missing from the impressive Jack and Kamara’s game: goals. Jack managed four from midfield-one of them was very important– and Kamara struck the first and only of his career against his former club Dundee. While neither are in the team for their prowess in front of goal it would be nice if the goals from midfield column could be upped.
Gerrard was blessed to have a full-back in James Tavernier who could contribute so regularly (mostly from dead-ball situations but as the cliche goes: ‘you still have to score them’) scoring a stunning 17 goals from right back, but he and Arfield (12) were the only two players behind Alfredo Morelos who managed to reach double figures at Ibrox last season.
The lack of goals was telling as Rangers’ midfield options (Jack, Halliday, Kamara, Davis, Lassana Coulibaly, McCrorie, Dorrans and Jordan Rossiter) managed just 11 goals between them (although Rossiter and Dorrans struggled for fitness and game time at Ibrox) which isn’t good enough, especially when you compare it to Celtic’s Ryan Christie- he himself missed chunks of the season with injury– who managed the same total as the entire Rangers midfield.
Aribo scored an impressive 10 times for Charlton as they got promoted to the Championship last season and with Jack and Kamara playing behind him allowing even more of a license to drive forward it could be a profitable season for the 22-year-old Englishman and a convenient solution to one of Rangers’ problems from last season.
Aribo could just add the 10-15 goals missing from Rangers title push last season and push Celtic right down to the wire if he’s afforded the chance to partner Jack and Kamara in the heart of Gerrard’s team as they look for that elusive 55th title.