Home Sports Aribo’s move to Southampton is he needed

Aribo’s move to Southampton is he needed

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Despite the mixed reaction to the Super Eagle’s switch, the merits far outweigh the negatives for the erstwhile Rangers midfielder.

The completion of every transfer immediately leads to questions over those involved — the selling club, buying club and player — questioning whether all parties have benefitted from the said deal.

For Joe Aribo’s move to Southampton, those inquisitions understandably followed after the Nigeria international moved to the South Coast outfit for an initial fee of £6 million potentially rising to £10 million.

With a year left to run on an initial four-year contract with Rangers, this summer seemed the right time to depart Ibrox Stadium, and a dream move to the Premier League was just what the doctor ordered.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world. I’ve been watching it since I was a young boy, it’s always been a goal for me to play here and show what I can do on this stage,” the 25-year-old said after becoming a Saint.

“It’s an amazing feeling, a dream come true. This is where I’ve wanted to be since I was a child growing up playing, so to say that I’m here now is really exciting.”

While the reaction to the Nigeria international’s move was a tad mixed, there are undoubtedly more pros than cons.

Having said that, you understand some of the scepticism following the midfielder’s Southampton transfer. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side blow hot and cold and tend to go through overly torrid spells without success, evidenced by extended runs of poor results in the manager’s three full seasons in charge.

In 2019/20, the Austrian tactician’s team went on an eight-game Premier League run without success (six defeats), a nine-game spell (eight losses) without gaining three points and claimed only one victory in their final 11 games of the preceding season (eight defeats).
The aforementioned runs included two 9-0 annihilations, by Leicester City and Manchester United, as well as a 6-0 thrashing at Saint Mary’s Stadium by Chelsea in April, perhaps indicative of why Hasenhuttl’s men have ended the last three campaigns in the bottom half, recording successive 15th-placed finishes in the top flight.

Despite the absence of European football on the South Coast, it was the right time to depart Ibrox after three years of continental football for more competitive competition. At 25, it represents the right age to move as a bigger future transfer is possible if he continues to flourish.

In a sense, Hasenhuttl’s approach suits the Nigeria international to the tee. The former RB Leipzig boss favored a 4-2-2-2 formation for the majority of last season and indeed mostly his entire time in charge of the club.
While Aribo’s now widespread versatility means he can operate in a midfield pairing — see Nigeria —, in his most natural position as one of the midfielders on either side of a defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 or further forward in the same formation, his inclination to operate in the half-spaces suggests Southampton’s primary approach fits his profile.

“[Hasenhuttl] asked me where I prefer to play most. I told him just behind the striker in a right-forward position,” Aribo stated after his switch.“He said it’s really good that I said that to him and not another position, so we’ve had a lot of chats about it. It’s a nice feeling to know that the manager has high hopes for you.”
The Austrian further explained how his side would be beneficiaries of the Nigerian’s creativity and it is not hard to understand why.

James Ward-Prowse largely carried the can for the South Coast outfit last season, creating 70 chances for teammates, with Oriel Romeu (35) and Nathan Redmond (34) following the Saints captain.

Their volume of Shot-Creating Actions surpassed every teammate and the England international ranked second to Redmond for SCAs per 90, although dead-balls made up the majority of the midfielder’s return.
Southampton produced 60 openings termed big chances last term — 13th in the Premier League — and it was telling that no player crossed double figures, with Ward-Prowse’s eight outdoing his colleagues.

Aribo fashioned more clear-cut openings than any teammate in Rangers’ commendable Europa League run last season where he outdid his teammates for Expected Assists (xA) and xA per 90 as the ‘Gers made it to the final.

In the Scottish Premiership, only two teammates created more big chances than the London-born midfield man, who did his fair share of crafting openings for his colleagues.

“Joe is a player with many qualities to his game, and we believe he can bring energy and creativity to our side,” Hasenhuttl remarked. “Feeling comfortable in so many different positions is very helpful for a manager and shows he has a high level of football intelligence, with the ability to take on new information quickly.
“His performances in the Europa League prove he has the quality to play in the Premier League.”

Throw in Aribo’s durability, positive ball-carrying, an inclination to be involved in the backend of moves and intensity off the ball that goes unnoticed and Southampton have a player ready to take his game to the next level.

The Nigerian has stated his ambition to thrive in the big time, and he now has to walk the talk in the forthcoming Premier League season.

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