Super Eagles midfielder Joe Aribo has earned praise for an incredible 2021/22 season which saw him play a whopping 70 games to become the most used player in the season.
Aribo was a key part of a Glasgow Rangers team who played every single game of the league and every cup tournament they were involved in. The Gers got to the final of the UEFA Europa League and the Scottish Cup while pushing Celtic to the limit in the chase for the 2021/22 Scottish Premiership title. Aribo was also a mainstay for Nigeria, featuring in every international break and in all the games of Nigeria’s ill-fated 2021 African Cup of Nations outing in Cameroon last January.
He just left the side after a 10 – 0 demolition of Sao Tome and Principe to bring an end to his season officially after 70 long, hard and gruelling games.
His season has been praised by one of the world’s foremost sports performance consultants, Florida-based Allistair McCaw, who also expressed concerns that the midfielder could experience mental and physical exhaustion if he is forced to play this many matches next season.
McCaw is a close friend of former Rangers' first-team coach Michael Beale and he spent three days at the Rangers Training Centre working with players and staff when Steven Gerrard was manager.
The Florida-based performance consultant – who has ties to Paris St-Germain and a number of top athletes – praised Aribo's physicality but strongly noted that he must be managed well next season or he suffers burnout.
What has been said
On hearing the number of games the 25-year-old midfielder played, McCaw said: “Wow, that’s a lot of games.
“If my maths is correct, that’s one game every five days, which is insane. Not just physically but mentally, that’s incredibly tough to be ready time after time to perform at an elite level in any sport, not just football.
“It’s also quite incredible he hasn’t suffered any injuries I know of in that period, so he must be in great shape.”
McCaw then stressed on the need for Aribo to be allowed to rest for longer than his teammates at both the national team and at Rangers. He said: “As a top athlete, that schedule must eventually catch up with you and you eventually pay for it.
“It might not be this season but you eventually pay for it in the seasons to follow. Physically and mentally, that kind of intense activity is tough on an athlete, regardless of what sport you’re playing.
“You have to take all sorts of factors into account in terms of things like travelling – which he’ll have done a lot of with his club and country – and time zones. All these things add up and that’s a heck of a lot of matches.
“If you look at England, Mo Salah has played a hell of a lot of matches this season, Virgil van Dijk as well, and you could see by the end of the season Liverpool’s players were tired. So it does have an effect.
“But the number of matches he’s played is tough and if he has continued to perform at a high level, he’s done well because that’s incredibly difficult.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 7 months ago