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Saints Sign Central Defender
Tuesday, 21st Jun 2022 18:11

It's been rumoured for most of the day but Southampton FC have officially confirmed they have signed Armel Bella-Kotchap from VFL Bochum 1848, as the summer rebuilding continues at St Mary's

The signing of Armel Bella-Kotchap has come under the radar, whilst Saints have been linked with several other central defenders of late, today's signing did not crop up in potential targets until earlier today.

Whilst he comes with a growing reputation with both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea linked , at 20 years old and with only around 22 Bundesliga appearances to his name, he is not the experienced defender that we truly need in the back four.

If the youngsters like Bella Kotchap and indeed Mohammed Salisu are to develop they need some experience to get them through games when the going gets tough.

I am happy to see Bella-Kotchap arrive, but we do need to find a decent experienced head this season if we are to avoid the repeats of the past few seasons when we have collapsed at times in defence with no leadership and cool heads.

Saints issued the following press release at 6pm this evening:

Southampton Football Club has completed the signing of defender Armel Bella-Kotchap from VfL Bochum, it is delighted to announce.

The highly-rated 20-year-old has signed a four-year deal on the south coast, arriving at St Mary’s after making 74 appearances for the Bundesliga outfit.

Starting out in the game at the age of four at Rot Weiss Ahlen, the French-born defender joined Bochum in 2017 aged 15.

Quickly picking up international caps at Under-18 and Under-20 level, Bella-Kotchap enjoyed a similar rise at club level, establishing himself as a first-team regular just six months after signing his first professional contract with Die Unabsteigbaren.

Embedded as a household name in North Rhine-Westphalia, the youngster made 26 appearances as Thomas Reis’s side won Bundesliga 2 in 2021 and ended a 12-year hiatus from the top flight.

Continuing his impressive development, Bella-Kotchap made a further 26 appearances last season, as Bochum comfortably maintained their Bundesliga status.

Commenting on the acquisition of the defender, Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to secure Armel’s signing.

“He is a player who fits our profile very well and has a huge amount of potential, but with the number of senior games he has already played he can help us immediately.

“I think he has made the perfect choice in wanting to join us and we will now work with him to make sure he reaches his potential both for himself and for the team.

“We already have some very strong options in defence and Armel adds more attributes to that list.”

After completing his move to St Mary’s Armel Bella-Kotchap said: “It’s amazing and I’m delighted to be here. I think, every young player dreams to play in the Premier League and I’m here and I’m happy and thankful for that.

“The coach has a big impact on me. We speak the same language and his interest was very big in me.

“The club convinced me and said they want to make a project with me and I’m ready to go and I will fight for my place.”

Photo: Action Images

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inthebox added 18:27 - Jun 21
Welcome to St Mary's Armel

derbydog added 19:23 - Jun 21
You’re not going to get the experienced defender you want, that would be Bednarek or Stevens. This buy today fits the buying profile, young and likely to increase in value. Ralph likes Salisu and Lyanco and this guy makes three players who can hopefully punch above their weight. Assuming we have no kids with promise (why not?) and Simeu is not thought to be ready yet, then we have 5 CBs, which is arguably one too many. I would guess Stevens is staying, why would he sign a new contract if he wasn’t?, so Bednarek may go in a book-balancing move. I don’t see the problem in this thinking as the club prefers young players they can shape rather than old warhorses they can’t. I won’t mention Gary Cahill again or you will get annoyed!

felly1 added 19:59 - Jun 21
Stephens and Bednerek are our experienced defenders, unless Saints have a complete change of philosophy they are unlikely to bring the old head but with more quality than both the previously mentioned as. A. They wouldn't come to Saints as we won't pay the level of wages other clubs will. B. There is no resale value on this type of player.

darthvader added 09:01 - Jun 22
ABK JWP KWP , we need to fill the side with these type of names that would be funnier than cupcaking the ex

wessexman added 09:23 - Jun 22
Stephens is never going to improve. Bednarek had a torrid season. To rely on these two is asking for trouble. Bella Kotchap is going to have to hit the ground running. Salisu's form was also very patchy. We have had no leader or someone to marshall our defence since Fonte left. It is quite obvious Saints will not get that leader. Moneyball is begin all, end all at Saints. That is fine....but it is fraught with danger. Especially when we can't seem to score enough goals.

highfield49 added 09:45 - Jun 22
If there is real intent to sign Mattias Svanberg from Bologna as well then we could be building something quite exciting. Add in a goal scorer and we are going to be a team that has the pundits queueing up, with the obligatory cheque book waving fervour, demanding Liverpool, Spurs, Utd etc etc buy our new talents for knock down prices. Already "too good for small club Southampton" I hear the loathsome experts wail wondering why the likes of Villa and Newcastle missed out on our new gems. Fingers crossed.

Monksway added 12:46 - Jun 22
It's clear from these signings that Saints, as they've stated, are only interested in bringing in youngsters with potential to develop. Whilst I would have preferred an experienced spine like Nick, it's clearly not the thinking at Saints. Bednarek will now go I guess. Hopefully the new coach will make a difference to the defence.

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