A talented young starlet, 20-year-old Armel Bella-Kotchap arrives from Bochum to bolster Southampton’s defensive ranks ahead of the 2022/23 season.
The defender made 74 appearances for Bochum, as well as earning nine caps for Germany at Under-21 level, showing a whole host of experience despite his tender age.
Born in Paris, France, Bella-Kotchap moved to Germany at a young age and began his footballing journey at just four-years-old with Rot Weiss Ahlen. He then spent time at a number of youth academies across Germany, including Borussia Mönchengladbach and MSV Duisburg.
Age appears merely just a number for the 6'2" youngster, who aided Bochum’s Under-19’s successful 2018/19 campaign with six clean sheets as well as scoring his debut goal in a 3-1 victory over Preußen Münster.
Initially spending time with Bochum’s youth academy on his arrival in 2017, Bella-Kotchap was awarded his first professional contract with the Bundersliga outfit in March 2019.
Making four appearances in his debut season for the club, it was the 2019/20 season was the one in which he started to display a real flair in his game, making 14 appearances in both league and cup competitions.
Despite resulting in a narrow 2-1 defeat, one of the youngster's most defining performances came in October 2019, where his relentless marking of Serge Gnarby as well as a crucial interception on Robert Lewandowski meant Bochum held the advantage until the 83rd minute, ultimately losing out 2-1 at Vonovia Ruhrstadion.
A mainstay in Thomas Reis’ first-team squad, Bella-Kotchap started 26 games in a defining 2020/21 season for Bochum as they won 2. Bundersliga, securing their place in the top-flight of German football for the first time in 12 years.
Beginning the 2021/22 season at just 19-years-old and already featuring frequently for the club he joined back in 2017, the youngster continued to play a pivotal role, making 22 appearances as Bochum secured their status in the top-flight for another season, finishing 13th in the Bundersliga standings.
With power and pace in equal measure, the German is certain to be a welcome addition to Hasenhüttl’s back line in the upcoming 2022/23 season.