Joe Aribo is the latest Nigerian international to have moved to the Premier League having joined Southampton on a four-year contract.
After passing his medical, the Super Eagles star signed for the Saints on a fee believed to be around £6m to become the club’s fifth signing of the transfer window.
With a midfield that already boasts experience players like Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Nathan Redmond, Stuart Armstrong, Ibrahima Dialo, Moussa, Djenepo among others, Aribo’s arrival is expected to add quality and spark that has been missing in previous seasons as highlighted by manager Ralph Hasenhuttl while welcoming the player to the club.
“Joe is a player with many qualities to his game, and we are very excited to welcome him to the squad in time for the pre-season trip to Austria,” Hasenhuttl told the club website.
“We believe Joe can bring energy and creativity to our side. 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.
“He has played a lot of games already in his career, at a very high level, and his performances in the Europa League prove he has the quality to play in the Premier League. This is a big ambition for him, and he is hungry to show everybody he can do it.”
Two successive campaigns with Glasgow Rangers saw the midfielder linked with a host of English Premier League clubs with several reports suggesting he would be reuniting with his former boss Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa.
Following several months of speculations, the Nigerian can now focus on the season ahead after Southampton announced his capture on Saturday with the player saying he was delighted with the move.
“It’s an amazing club with a lot of history here, and it’s a good plan with what’s to come next. I’m really excited for the journey,” Aribo told the club’s media team.
“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.
“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.”
Born in Camberwell, England – the midfielder initially rose through the youth ranks at Kinetic Academy before moving to another side Staines Town to continue his development.
There, he rose through the club’s youth ranks to stamp his place on the Staines senior squad in 2014.
After a season with the Swans, he caught the attention of Charlton Athletic and teamed up with the squad in 2015.
At the Valley, he became a regular figure and that attracted him to the Gers – who signed him on a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee in 2019.
His debut for the Scottish Premiership side was on July 9, 2019, in a 4–0 win over St Joseph’s of Gibraltar in the Europa League. Aribo represented the Ibrox Stadium giants for three seasons.
During his stay at Ibrox – where he made 149 senior appearances with 26 goals to his credit – the 25-year-old won one Scottish Premiership title, and one Scottish Cup while helping them finish as runners-up in last season’s Uefa Europa League in which he scored in the final, where they lost to Frankfurt.
After joining Southampton, the Nigerian wrote an emotional letter to the club and fans of Rangers.
“It’s been an amazing journey being part of this special club. I hold Rangers very close to my heart as they gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent on a bigger stage,” Aribo wrote on Instagram.
“Playing at Ibrox was a dream and I’m glad I got to experience it. I’m happy I was able to play a part in the historic 55 league title-winning season.
“I’d like to thank everyone associated with this great club for all you’ve done for me during my time here, you’ve always made me feel welcome and I’ve always had your full support.
“I’ve developed into an even better player, credit to the supporters who always had my back and stayed patient during the tough times.”
“We created a lot of memories together, memories that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my career. I wish the club nothing but the best for the future and I’ll always be checking in. Joe Aribo.”
Southampton did have an EFL cup win back in 2010, but their last major trophy was back in 1976, when they won the FA Cup, beating Manchester United.
It is now 46 years and 70 days since they last won a major trophy and the big question is, can their new talisman help end the long trophy wait?
They will hope to end their long wait for a major trophy with some signings they’ve made so far in the transfer window.
Born in London, he represents Nigeria on the international scene, earning 20 caps to date and scoring in each of his first two appearances for the Super Eagles against Ukraine and Brazil in 2019.
The midfielder also represented the Super Eagles during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The big question is, will Aribo rise to the occasion and bring the creativity and energy that the manager believed he would bring to the club?