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Sports News of Monday, 13 March 2023


Aribo: Celebrated at Rangers, relegated at Southampton

Joe Aribo Joe Aribo

Nigerian midfielder Joe Aribo was not listed in bottom-place Southampton’s squad for their 1-0 win over Leicester City.

It’s been a trying period for the former Glasgow Rangers man, when joined the Saints with high hopes, when he joined the Premier League side last summer.

He moved to England after he helped the Gers lift the Scottish Premiership and Scottish Cup, as well as scoring in last season’s Europa League final.

For the records, the 26-year-old has played just 37 minutes of Premier League football since January 4, missing seven matches in the English topflight.

Under new manager Ruben Selles, Aribo only featured in the FA Cup fifth-round 2-1 defeat to League Two side Grimsby Town.

Things got off to a bright start for the playmaker as he was handed regular playing time under former boss Ralph Hasenhuttl and featured in 15 matches, scoring two goals across all competitions.

Following poor results, Hasenhuttl was sacked last November after a string of poor results.

Things appeared to be quickly turning sour when Nathan Jones was brought in as boss, as Aribo did not enjoy regular playing time, featuring just eight times under Jones, who was in charge for just three months.

Since the sack of Jones February 12, and Selles taking charge, the Super Eagles midfielder has fallen further down the pecking order and has only managed one appearance for the Saints in all competitions.

Having failed to recreate his Glasgow Rangers’ form at Saint Mary’s, Aribo now risks losing his spot, especially with the arrival of Charly Alcaraz from Argentinian side Racing Club this month and immediately taking Aribo’s spot in the starting line-up.

The Nigerian was at some point dropped to Southampton B team after failing to get a starting role under Selles, who will be in charge until the end of the 2022/23 season.

And this could spell a tough time for Aribo as he was in Southampton’s U-23 team that played against Leeds United February 24.

It’s been a tale of mixed fortunes for Aribo, who was hero worshipped by fans in Scotland for his outstanding performances.

Aribo was one of the best players in Scotland last season and did admit that he expected a tougher challenge in England.

“It’s one that I’m not surprised about.

“I know the Premier League was not going to be an easy task. Playing against teams, you could see the shift in quality in every single team,” Aribo said in November 2022, before the sack of Hasenhuttl.

“Every team has got quality. Some results haven’t been the best, but we are still growing, we are still learning and I think as a team we are going to come through.

“It’s a dream for me to, of course, play in the Champions League, but I am also living my dream playing in the Premier League, so it’s either or. I couldn’t have both at the time, so I think for me it’s a very good decision.”

The dream of playing European football looks dim as he will have to fight his way out of Saints B team to get a starting role with the senior team.

Aribo will be hoping luck shines on him and is included in the Saints Premier League trip to Old Trafford on Sunday (today).

After suffering a humiliating 7-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday, United bounced back with a 4-1 mauling of Spanish side Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday and will be hoping to win again, as they hope to consolidate their place in England’s Top 4.

The defeat at Anfield saw United fall 12 points behind second-place Manchester City, who earned a hard-fought 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, so a win against bottom-place Southampton will help beef up confidence at Old Trafford and also reduce the points deficit against their neigbours.

Aribo is not included in the Saints’ predicted squad for today’s clash, but if he gets a chance, he may just send a message to manager Sellers, that he deserves regular playing time, with an assured performance.