Rangers manager Steven Gerrard believes Joe Aribo has “the world at his feet” after lavishing praise on the midfielder for his performance in Sunday’s 3-0 Betfred Cup victory over East Fife.
The 23-year-old completed the scoring with a simple finish six minutes from time, his fourth goal in eight games since joining from Charlton during the summer, and shone in the last-16 victory against the part-time side.
The Ibrox outfit have been drawn away to Livingston in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Gerrard made 10 changes, handing a full debut to Filip Helander and maiden appearances to Brandon Barker and Andy King from the bench, for the trip to the Ladbrokes League One side and watched his team take the lead in the 17th minute with a sublime effort from Jermain Defoe.
The unfortunate Ross Dunlop then directed Helander’s header into his own net before Aribo struck.
Gerrard was in no doubt about who was the star of the show.
He said: “Everyone will go away talking about Joe Aribo and rightly so.
“I am not sure how many good players have been at this stadium, but I don’t think you will see many better than Joe.
“He was outstanding from start to finish. He looked superb all day.
“He has four goals in eight games, but it isn’t just about that, it is about your all-round performances.
“Top players turn up anywhere, it doesn’t matter if it is in front of 50,000, or 1500, your standards are always the same and from day one Joe has done that.
“He can go as far as he wants. I hope he stays alongside me for many years, but he’s got the world at his feet.”
On the overall performance of his team, Gerrard, whose side take on Legia Warsaw in Poland on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League play-off round, added: “I think a lot of people took their opportunity today.
“When you are watching this game on TV, against a team two divisions below you, people think it will be straightforward. But the pitch is a leveller, the conditions are a leveller, but we were professional and we showed a good attitude and our quality shone through so there was a lot of positives.”
Asked about facing Livingston in the next round, he added: “It is another Astroturf pitch and another challenge for us. We were there a couple of times last year and had some good games there.
“They will be up for it. It is a chance to go to Hampden and it will be a good game.”
East Fife manager Darren Young, whose side wasted a good chance through Aaron Dunsmore at 0-0, said: “The disappointment is that we didn’t take our chances.
“We had openings in the first half and even at 1-0.
“If we do better in the final third, we would have made a better game of it.
“But it’s no disgrace losing 3-0 to Rangers and our attitude and work-rate was excellent.”