Meet Southampton’s new £10m defender known for “mental flights of fancy”


Southampton have moved quickly this summer to sign Armel Bella-Kotchap from Bochum on a £10million deal, though it has not been an easy road.

The 20-year old had been approached by Chelsea and Manchester United in the past. This could be good news for Saints supporters. Scouts must have been excited to see such prestigious clubs take an interest in the 20-year-old.

For a team that conceded 67 goals in the Premier League last season, defence is an area in desperate need of reinforcement. Ralph Hasenhuttl is aware that he needs to sign a top centreback. The Austrian managed to survive the coaching purge at the club where several staff members were dismissed, but the manager was allowed stay.

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But, patience may be wearing thin if Southampton are not able to get off to a strong start next season. Therefore, every signing this summer will need to be carefully considered. And for £10m Hasenhuttl might have an absolute gem – but are there any potential problems?

Bochum survived the Bundesliga’s relegation last year despite being one among the favourites to be beaten after he was promoted the year before. Bella Kotchap was one reason. He had to fight to be reinstated after being beaten by RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich.

Perhaps most alarmingly, Bochum boss Thomas Reis was seen tearing his hair out with the youngster on several occasions. Kicker reported that Reis had lost his cool in Bella-Kotchap because he showed up late for training and made lapses of concentration.

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Southampton new boy Armel Bella-Kotchap has been known for lapses in concentration
Southampton new boy Armel bella-kotchap has been well-known for his inability to concentrate

“More than once had Reis complained that his protege was prone to mental flights of fancy, apparently also incited by his environment. This was one of the reasons why Bella-Kotchap was repeatedly dropped from the Bochum squad.

“Sometimes the youngster stands like a rock and is convincing even against the league’s top strikers, but time and again the German U-21 international, born in Paris, makes hardly explainable lapses. Not only does he lose crucial duels, but his sometimes careless manner could drive any coach up the wall.

“In addition, he lacked discipline on the home stretch of the season that has just come to an end, was late for training and did not present himself as if he absolutely had to be called up at the weekend.”


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