Crystal Palace had a fairly successful transfer window during the summer, building on their impressive season last term. Patrick Vieira added the likes of Chris Richards, Sam Johnstone, and Cheick Doucoure to his squad in order to provide much-needed depth.
Steve Parish, given his impact in the transfer window over the previous two summers, perhaps made a major blunder by missing out on one of the Scottish Premiership’s most creative players.
Glasgow Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo was heading into this season with just one year on his contract, and Giovanni van Bronckhorst looked like he wasn’t going to get him to stay in Scotland. Palace were linked with a move for the Nigerian, but nothing materialised and he joined fellow Premier League side Southampton in a deal that could rise to £10m.
Aribo was arguably Rangers’ finest player last season, becoming one of the side’s key creative outlets as they won the Scottish Cup and reached the final of the Europa League, with the 26-year-old even scoring in the final.
In the Premiership last season, Aribo scored eight goals and registered five assists while also making 1.8 key passes per match, displaying his creative talents to set up teammates as often as possible.
He created a further nine big chances and was successful with 57% of his attempted dribbles and it was arguably these stats that made teams from south of the border stand up and take note.
It’s a shame he didn’t join Palace, as Aribo would have formed a scary duo with Zaha spearheading the London side’s attack.
With Aribo usually operating high on the right or sometimes through the middle, combined with Zaha’s pace and goalscoring talents from the left, Vieira could well have had an unstoppable duo ready to take the Premier League by storm. Indeed, with Zaha finding the net four times already this term, it could have made their attack even more devastating.
The former Light Blues star has also proved it on the international stage, shining for Nigeria on various occasions, even scoring against Brazil in October 2019, his second international goal after making his debut the month before.
This led former Super Eagles star Victor Ikpeba to describe him as “exceptional” and his performances for the nation have vindicated this impressive praise.
In January’s African Cup of Nations tournament, Aribo averaged a SofaScore rating of 7.27 as Nigeria dazzled in the group stage. They were unfortunately knocked out in the last 16 by Tunisia, however, his displays likely attracted a few more potential suitors.
It looks like Vieira’s loss is Southampton’s gain and if he manages to make the same impact on the south coast as he did in Glasgow, Parish will be left red in the face.