Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has insisted that midfielder Joe Aribo is at the right club, following his move to Ibrox from Charlton Athletic this summer.
The 23-year-old received his first call-up for Nigeria during the recent international break and scored on his debut for his country during the 2-2 draw with Ukraine.
The midfielder was a key player for Charlton last season, but left the club to join Rangers for an undisclosed fee during the summer transfer window and has already scored four goals in his twelve appearances for the Scottish Premiership side.
At the time of the transfer, Charlton manager Lee Bowyer criticised Aribo for his decision to join Rangers, insisting that it was wrong move for his career and claiming that he would have been better off remaining at The Valley.
However, Gerrard has now hit back at Bowyer for his comments, insisting that Aribo is at the right club and that he was only selected for the Nigeria national team because he is now playing for a big club in Rangers.
“Congratulations to him, his first game and he manages to get a goal. He was rewarded for his form as a Rangers player,” Gerrard said at a Rangers press conference.
“It was his first call-up, so it shows you he’s at the right place and that he’s playing football at the right level – European football, playing in Old Firms. At last he’s being recognised as an international player.
“He was rewarded with his first game and gets his first goal so he should be in a great place.
“Joe Aribo is in the right place, trust me,” he added.
“He must have started watching him since he was playing at Rangers.They must be happy with him playing in Europa League games and playing in front of 51,000.
“The people who select now for the Nigerian international team know now that he can play in big football games. I don’t know many players in the Championship who are playing for Nigeria.”
After winning promotion from League One last season, Charlton have made a fantastic start to the new campaign and are currently second in the Championship table after winning four of their opening six matches.
It’s easy to understand why Aribo was tempted by a move to Rangers – they’re a huge club, with a great history and a massive fan base. He’s now got the chance to play European football and the chance to learn from a top coach in Gerrard.
However, it’s also easy to understand why Bowyer was frustrated with his decision, as Aribo was a key player for Charlton last season and would’ve been more than capable of making an impact in the Championship this term.
Perhaps Gerrard is right though, I can’t think of any players in the Championship who play for Nigeria and it’s hard to imagine that Aribo would’ve been selected for his country if he’d have stayed at Charlton this season.