Joe Aribo was just four games into his Charlton Athletic career when his manager compared him to one of the greatest midfielders of the 21st century.
“Joe is like a young Patrick Vieira in some ways with his leggy range, quality and appetite to get around the pitch,” then-Addicks boss Karl Robinson told the club’s website of a player who had been playing U23 football a few months earlier.
“From the moment I walked in the door, I was told about him. I’ve trusted him and when he started against MK Dons in the FA Cup I thought he was one of the best players on the pitch.”
Nearly three years on, those comparisons with a three-time Premier League winning Arsenal captain and 1998 World Cup winner are starting to bear fruit.
Aribo obviously has a long way to go before he establishes himself alongside Vieira in the pantheon of midfield greats and it is fair to say the former Juventus and France enforcer was never forced to strut his stuff on the plastic pitch of Bayview.
But Aribo’s performance in the 3-0 League Cup victory against East Fife on Sunday afternoon was yet another reminder about why Robinson, and almost everyone who has worked with this uber-talented 23-year-old, rates him so highly.
Four goals in eight games represents a very impressive start to Aribo’s Rangers career but it’s his ability to dominate a game from the centre of the park which makes him really stand out. Even in testing conditions against a third tier outfit, he was a cut above, adding thrust and a touch of class to an otherwise workmanlike Rangers display.
Like a peak Vieira, you might add.
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