SAINTS today confirmed their third signing of the summer window, after it was announced German under-21 international Armel Bella-Kotchap had arrived on the south coast from Bundesliga outfit VfL Bochum.

It is believed Saints have parted with a fee in the region of €11 million, with Bella-Kotchap signing a four-year deal. Saints are also believed to have the ability to automatically extend the contract by an extra year via a clause in the deal.

Paris-born, Bella-Kotchap is eligible to play for three countries – France, the nation of his birth, Germany, where he grew up, and Cameroon, via his father.

Cyrille Bella, Kotchap’s father, was a four-time Cameroonian international, who largely played as a striker in Germany.

Bella-Kotchap current represents Germany internationally, and has made a host of appearance at numerous youth levels.


Handed his senior debut for VfL Bochum in April 2019, Bella-Kotchap has made 73 appearances for the German club, featuring 28 times as they won the 2.Bundesliga and promotion back to the top-table of German football for the first time in 11 years in 2021.

He then made 22 appearances as Bochum avoided the drop from the Bundesliga, finding himself dropped on numerous occasions for poor training performances and erratic lapses of concentration on the field.

Before joining Bochum at 15, Bella-Kotchap spent time in the youth systems of Rot Weiss Ahlen, SC Grimlinghausen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, SG Unterrath and MSV Duisburg – all relatively minor sides, apart from Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Well-respected German publication Kicker described how Bella-Kotchap’s previous boss, Thomas Reis, had frequently vented his frustrations regarding the youngster’s “mental flights of fancy.”

The following excerpt, translated from the original German, illustrates Reis’ frustrations: “More than once had Reis complained that his protégé 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.

“Thanks to his undoubted potential, however, he returned to the team time and time again and made 22 appearances in his first year in the Bundesliga.”

“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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