Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo has spoken about rumours linking with a transfer to the Premier League, as Aston Villa and Crystal Palace keep tabs on his situation.
London-born Aribo spent time at Charlton Athletic before moving to Rangers on a free transfer in July 2019. He is now an integral member of their first team, having made 57 appearances during the most recent campaign.
The central midfielder, who can also play on the wing or up front, registered nine goals and 10 assists. He helped Rangers pick up 89 points in the league, although they were beaten to the Scottish Premiership title by rivals Celtic.
Aribo featured regularly in Rangers’ Europa League campaign. They went on to reach the final but were beaten by German side Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties.
The 25-year-old had the option to play for England internationally. But he chose to represent Nigeria and has won 12 caps for them so far, scoring two goals.
Despite such a gruelling club campaign, Aribo was part of the Nigeria squad for their recent AFCON qualifiers.
Former Rangers boss Steven Gerrard supposedly wants to reunite with him at Villa Park. Palace also hold an interest, as per The Athletic.
Joe Aribo reacts to transfer links
During an interview with BBC Sport Africa, Aribo said on the links: “With all that stuff I don’t really read into it and I just focus on my football, because you can’t have distractions as it won’t allow you to play the best and be the best that you want to be.
“Which is obviously what I want to be every time I play. I just want to be focused and ready to go.”
One attribute which Villa and Palace may like about Aribo is his versatility. Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst relies on the player to operate in several attacking positions, as mentioned previously.
Aribo added: “Playing in different positions has helped me realise what I’m capable of doing and also given me an opportunity to keep growing.
“As a young footballer craving a chance to play, you’d grab the chance to even play in goal. But here I am being asked to play for my club in different roles on the pitch, I was happy to do it.
“I must say I am no longer the player I was after going through that phase (of self-doubt).
“I am grateful to the manager for the trust, my team-mates for believing in me and supporting me.”
Aribo is now having a rest after playing for club and country so often in the past 10 months or so. After that, he will link back up with Rangers to prepare for next season.
But with Villa and Palace monitoring his situation, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Aribo came to the Premier League at some point in the next few years.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s Transfer Gossip has the latest on Gleison Bremer’s future, with the defender a target for Chelsea.