Barry Ferguson predicts huge transfer fee for Rangers star man Joe Aribo while Ibrox youngster to be recalled from loan spell

The Nigerian midfielder is entering the final 18 months of his Ibrox contract as speculation regarding his future begins to mount

Rangers legend Barry Ferguson believes Joe Aribo’s value has rocketed in recent weeks and insists the club MUST keep hold of their star man in the upcoming transfer window.

The midfielder has received praise from team-mates and pundits for his standout performances this season but speculation has started to mount regarding his Ibrox future.

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Aribo, who has scored six goals and provided three assists in 18 league appearance so far this season, is entering the final 18 months of his contract with the Scottish champions.

Several English Premier League clubs are monitoring the 25-year-old, with Brentford and Crystal Palace among the front-runners leading the charge to sign him.

Aston Villa, managed by previous Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard, could also plot a January swoop for the Nigerian international.

Steven Gerrard, Manager of Aston Villa looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa

Former Light Blues captain Ferguson reckons Aribo is integral to the club’s Premiership title hopes, insisting he is now worth £15million and that manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst should reject any offers that come their way.

Writing in his Daily Record column, he said: “While Rangers have made it clear that every player in the Dutchman’s squad has been given a market value ahead of the January sales, Joe Aribo might just be priceless when it comes to Van Bronckhorst’s hopes of leading the club to a second successive title.

“That’s why it’s so vital he hangs around for at least the rest of the current campaign because it seems inevitable now that someone is going to come knocking when the window opens, be it Steven Gerrard or some other manager from England’s top flight.

“They all know Rangers are looking to trade their top players because the board has been pretty open about it. If an offer comes in that matches the club’s valuation then they’ll do business.

“But Aribo should be the exception to the rule. I’d put a price tag of around £1million on him at this moment, which is £5m more than I would have said just a few weeks ago.

“Every time he steps onto a pitch right now he puts an extra digit on the end!

Joe Aribo. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“Even if Gerrard or whoever else comes in with a bid in that ball park, Rangers would be better off telling them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

“Gio has stated he has certain targets in mind if he does end up losing players when the market opens up but replacing Aribo might prove just about impossible.

“This is not a player you want to sell, this is the guy you want to build your team around. I’m sure Van Bronckhorst will already have realised that himself.”

Meanwhile, Rangers youngster Josh McPake will leave Ibrox to head back out on loan for the remained of the season this coming transfer window.

The 20-year-old is set to be recalled from his frustrating loan spell at English League One side Morecambe after his game time was curtailed by an ankle injury sustained in training.

Josh McPake will return to Rangers after his stint at Morton before heading out on another loan - with Salford City, Forest Green and Harrogate Town keen. (Daily Record)

McPake has made just seven appearances for the Shrimps and has not featured since their 3-3 draw with Accrington Stanley in September.

However, several English clubs have joined the race to sign the right-sided winger in January with Bradford City and Oldham both reportedly enquiring about McPake’s availability.

Salford City, Tranmere Rovers and Barrow are also keeping tabs on the highly-rated Scotland Under-21 international.

McPake, who has made a couple of Gers first-team appearances, enjoyed successful loan stint at Harrogate Town last year and will hope to re-discover his best form during the second half of the campaign.