Bella-Kotchap becomes a Saint


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.”