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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 courted by the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in the past, which might come as good news for Saints fans. With such prestigious clubs taking an interest, there must be something to have got scouts excited.
And for a team that conceded 67 times in the Premier League last year, the defence is an area that is in dire need of reinforcement and Ralph Hasenhuttl knows he needed to sign a top centre-back. The Austrian survived a coaching cull at the club this summer where several members of the staff were axed but the manager was allowed to stay on.
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However, that patience might run thin if Southampton do not get off to a good start next season – meaning that every summer signing will have to be considered carefully. And for £10m Hasenhuttl might have an absolute gem – but are there any potential problems?
Bochum survived relegation from the Bundesliga last season despite being one of the favourites to go down after landing promotion the year before and Bella-Kotchap was one of the reasons. However, he had to fight to get back into the team after heavy defeats to Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig saw him dropped.
Perhaps worryingly, Bochum boss Thomas Reis was left tearing his hair out on more than one occasion with the youngster and Kicker reported how he had lost his cool with Bella-Kotchap over turning up late to training and lapses in concentration.
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“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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- Southampton FC
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