Joe Aribo relishes rave reviews from Rangers great Brian Laudrup

A PLAYER invariably becomes far better than he actually is in the eyes of supporters in football when he is injured, suspended or left out and his team loses a game or draws and drop points. But when Rangers fans bemoaned the absence of Joe Aribo after the stalemate against Livingston on the artificial pitch at the Tony Macaroni Arena last Sunday, there was considerable justification for them venting their frustration, reports.
Aribo had been one of Steven Gerrard’s outstanding performers in the Ibrox club’s opening three Premiership fixtures and they badly missed his trickery in the final third and potent goal threat.
It isn’t just the punters who have been impressed with his form this month; the Nigerian international’s displays have drawn complimentary comments from the likes of Darren Fletcher and Brian Laurdup as well.
Their glowing remarks have lifted a midfielder who showed he is capable of sublime moments last term – like against Braga in the last 16 of the Europa League when he beat five players and scored what was later voted the Rangers Goal of the Season – but at times struggled for consistency.
“It’s always good to hear comments and praise from people I watched growing up,” he said. “Just knowing they have a high opinion of me is quite nice.
“I watched Darren Fletcher as a boy so it’s always a big boost for me to hear that from someone like him. Funnily enough, I supported Man United growing up. So I enjoyed watching Fletcher and always supported him. He was a main player in the team.
“And I’m aware of Brian Laudrup’s standing at Rangers. Hearing praise from Laudrup is amazing for me. I’m just happy that I’m able to show what I can do on the pitch at Rangers. I read the comments and other people will see them too. I’m really happy to hear that from him.”
He is quite content, too, to be the man who so many turn to when a goal is required even though he is just 24 and has only been in Govan for little over a year.
“It’s good pressure to have,” he said. “I am I want to thrive under it. I am not one to go hiding so it’s very good pressure to have as a player.
“I don’t think anything has changed, really. I’m a player that likes to open the door, to open defences, to move people about. The way I play, it’s a normal thing for me to create on the pitch.
“That’s normal for me but, of course, it’s nice having that feeling that I have to be one of the men to do it. I’m going to thrive on that, constantly. I don’t think it puts any extra responsibility on me personally. We have other players within the building that can also provide that creative spark.
“So I wouldn’t say that. In every game, I want to show my talent and if that means I have to provide that spark, that’ll be the case. But even without me, I know the boys in the team have that. There are other players who can do what I do.”
One of them is Ryan Kent. The former Liverpool winger was this week the subject of a bid from Leeds United which Rangers turned down. Aribo believes it is vital they retain his services if they want to challenge Celtic for the Scottish title in the coming months.
“It’s massive because we know what kind player Ryan is and we know what he is capable of,” he said. “Of course, it’s massive to keep a player like him in the building this season.”
The same could be said of Aribo. But the former Charlton Athletic man believes he has more to offer. He netted nine times in 49 appearances in the curtailed 2019/20 campaign. He is intent on improving upon that tally in the coming months.
“The manager definitely wants me to add more goals to my game this season to help the team,” he said “I know myself that I want a lot more goals. I want to be hitting the double digit figures, minimum. We do need to share the goals more as a team. Midfield players have to add goals to our game this season.
“Now I have had my year of learning at Rangers. I would say I feel more established. I’ve been around the gaffer and the staff. I take lots from them in every session, day in day out. I am going to improve as a player under such great coaches and from working with the gaffer.
“The gaffer has been massive for me. There are just little things on the training field he tells me that will go a long way. It’s nice to have him around and to be working with him. I wouldn’t say he is giving me more freedom now because I had that last year too. I would just say I have more confidence in my game now and I want to keep kicking on.”
Aribo missed the Premiership match against Kilmarnock at Ibrox yesterday through injury. He should be involved once again when Rangers travel to Hamilton on Saturday. It will be another awkward outing on an astroturf surface. But if the gifted crowd pleaser plays it will increase the visitors’ chances of avoiding any more slip-ups
“For me personally it’s a very hard league to adapt to because one week you are on grass, the next week you are on a plastic pitch,” he said. “But you can’t use that as an excuse. You need to deal with what you have and we know that we will face playing on plastic. You just need to adapt it and try to play your normal game.”
If Joe Aribo does that then neither he nor Rangers will go very far wrong.

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