Joe Aribo has received huge praise from his club boss for how he has adapted to his new role on the football pitch.
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has pointed out that at no time did he ask the Nigeria international to play as a winger. Rather, Aribo has been given the freedom to rove all over the pitch in whatever capacity he believes he can help his team to hurt the opposition.
The 23-year-old has blossomed of late, delivering a string of fine performances as the Light Blues have clinched six straight victories in all competitions, including a fantastic 2-1 win at Celtic Park late last year.
Aribo’s last goal came over a month ago in a 3-0 win at Hibernian, but the former Charlton Athletic midfielder has been immensely influential for the Gers.
His contributions have seen Steven Gerrard’s men move to within five points of league leaders, Celtic, with two games in hand. One of those games will be played on Sunday, as Rangers make the trip to the Tynecastle Park to trade tackles with bottom side, Hearts.
Speaking at his press conference ahead of the crucial tie, Gerrard explained how he has been able to get the best out of his star player in recent times.
“I’ll have to correct you there because he hasn’t been playing wide”, the former Liverpool hero said in response to a journalist’s question about Aribo playing as a winger.
“He’s been playing as a number 10, with freedom to go and express himself and to be on the centre of the pitch, on the left of the pitch, on the right of the pitch, wherever he feels he can go and cause trouble for the opposition.
“We want to release him from any burden in terms of tactics. So that’s where we feel like we can get the best Joe Aribo.
“I think his form, certainly over the last couple of months has been fantastic. We’re talking about a top talent here and that’s the reason why we tried so hard to get him here in the first place.”
Aribo could feature in his 19th league game of the season at Hearts as Rangers chase down champions Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.