Rangers: Where does potential Joe Aribo sale to Southampton leave Ibrox club?

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Rangers: Where does potential Joe Aribo sale to Southampton leave Ibrox club?

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https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/62061516

When people from England go and play for Celtic and Rangers, it's at the end of their careers. That's because it's very rare you get a move from Rangers to the Premier League."

Lee Bowyer's comments on Joe Aribo's move to Ibrox in 2019 certainly haven't aged well.

Then manager of Charlton Athletic, Bowyer lost his prized asset to Steven Gerrard's side in a move he felt "didn't make sense". Three years on, Nigeria international Aribo looks to be on his way to the Premier League with Southampton.

An Ibrox spell in which the 25-year-old has played an integral role in Rangers winning a first top-flight crown in a decade appears to have culminated in reaching the Europa League final and a Scottish Cup triumph last term.

A reported package of £10m for a player signed for just £300k, and in the last year of his contract, is certainly smart business - but with the start of the 2022-23 campaign looming, where does this leave Rangers?

Here, BBC Scotland looks at what Giovanni van Bronckhorst will be missing if Aribo departs, the state of play with the Dutchman's squad, and who might be on their way to Ibrox.

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Aribo coming into his own for club & country
Southampton close in on Aribo deal - gossip
What will Rangers be losing?
Before you touch on the adaptability and goal contribution Aribo brings, his availability must also be commended.

The attacking midfielder played 5,571 minutes over a staggering 70 games for club and country last term - more than any other player in world football.

During Gerrard's tenure, Aribo's versatility was key as he was regularly switched between the midfield three and the front trio.

Last term, however, with Van Bronckhorst dealing with a striker crisis after the injuries to Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe, Aribo was tasked with leading the attack - a switch which "helped me realise what I'm capable of," he told BBC Sport Africa.

Joe Aribo 2021-22 stats
Deployed as a central striker, Aribo helped the Premiership club achieve the unthinkable of reaching the Europa League final, which ended in a heart-wrenching penalty shootout defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Nigerian netted the opening goal in the Seville showpiece, his 26th - and potentially final - strike for the club.

Over his three years in Glasgow, Aribo has contributed to 51 goals in 148 games, with 19 of those coming last term in the shape of nine goals and 10 assists.

No other Rangers midfielder has scored more in any of the three seasons Aribo has been at the club, a void Van Bronckhorst must fill with what he already has at his disposal or with the funds that will come his way.

Colak to spark Ibrox incomings?
After May's Scottish Cup triumph over Hearts, much was made of a potential rebuild at Ibrox, with the likes of goalkeeper Allan McGregor, mainstay centre-back Connor Goldson and veteran midfielder Steven Davis approaching the end of their contracts.

However, all extended their deals, suggesting a refresh rather than a rebuild would be in order for Van Bronckhorst's first full season in charge.

Scotland defender John Souttar, signed on a pre-contract from Hearts, is so far the only summer addition.

Rangers' league season starts three weeks on Saturday, before their quest to qualify for the Champions League begins a few days later.

PAOK striker Antonio Colak, who scored 19 goals on loan at Malmo last term, is reportedly on his way to Ibrox
PAOK striker Antonio Colak, who scored 19 goals on loan at Malmo last term, is reportedly on his way to Ibrox
With Celtic acting fast to secure permanent deals for Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota, and Alexandro Bernabei and Benjamin Siegrist also arriving, more surgery is required to a Rangers squad looking to wrestle the title back to Ibrox.

It seems PAOK striker Antonio Colak - the man who ended Rangers' Champions League hopes last summer while on loan to Malmo - could be on his way.

Rangers fans will hope the Croat's potential arrival sparks a flurry of activity, but there may well be more on the way out.

Calvin Bassey has been linked with a big-money move after a stellar end to the season, while key attacking duo Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos have entered the final year of their contracts, along with Aribo.

The Ibrox hierarchy must now weigh up cashing in on their top assets or holding firm in their attempts to start the season strong and qualify for Europe's top club competition.
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