Former Celtic attacker Simon Donnelly believes Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst will face a huge challenge to get a replacement for midfielder Joe Aribo if he decides to leave the Scottish Premiership side in the current transfer window.
The 25-year-old Nigeria international is currently a transfer subject for a host of clubs in the Premier League, who are baying for his services after his impressive display for the Gers last season.
Reports indicate promoted side Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Fulham, and Aston Villa, are all targeting the Super Eagle, who was influential for the Gers as they clinched the Scottish Cup and reached the Europa League final.
Other reports indicated on Tuesday that Aribo had turned down Rangers’ request to sign an extension, with one year currently left on his contract.
According to the 47-year-old Donnelly, who played as a forward for Queen's Park Rangers, Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, St Johnstone, Dunfermline Athletic, Partick Thistle, and Scotland, Aribo’s exit will be a huge blow for Rangers and a headache for their manager.
“Has he had his head turned maybe by the English Premier League? Possibly, if he has knocked something back from Rangers,” Donnelly told the Go Radio Football Show as quoted by The Scotsman.
“He will be a big one to fill, that will be a challenge. He has been a really good player for Rangers and I think they will have their work cut out trying to fill that void. Gio will have to look hard to get somebody of that quality to replace him.”
Donnelly described Aribo as a player who can make things happen adding that such players are scarce to find in modern football.
“He’s a player that can make things happen, that can go past an opponent and open things up with his ability,” Donnelly continued. “There’s not many of those around. Up until the turn of the year, I thought he was Rangers’ best player last season.
“He tailed off a bit, he wasn’t as potent as he had been before [the African Cup of Nations], and from a Celtic perspective, I was quite happy that he came back and dropped off a bit.
“But I think he is a threat. Because he can go past someone, he can score a goal, it’s obvious that teams come looking.”
Last season, Aribo managed 34 top-flight appearances for Rangers and scored eight goals. His opening goal of the campaign came in the 3-0 victory against St. Johnstone on August 12.