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SPORTS UPDATE

Southampton complete £10m deal for Bella-Kotchap

Southampton have completed the signing of highly-rated Germany Under 21s defender Armel Bella-Kotchap.

VfL Bochum centre-back Bella-Kotchap has become Southampton’s third summer signing a four-year contract and joining for a fee in the region of £10million.

The Paris-born 20-year-old will follow goalkeepers Gavin Bazunu and Mateusz Lis to St Mary’s as new arrivals this summer.

And their additions ensure manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has addressed some of his key transfer priorities for this window ahead of the start of pre-season, with the first of his players returning next week for testing.

And Hasenhuttl 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.’

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.’

Bella-Kotchap made his Bochum debut aged just 17 in April 2019 and has gone on to make 74 appearances for the German club, helping them retain their Bundesliga status during 2021-22 having played a key role in their second-tier title win and promotion the previous season.

As his reputation has risen, Bella-Kotchap has been linked with moves to a number of Premier League clubs.

But Southampton, able to move more proactively in the transfer market against following Sport Republic’s takeover in January, have swooped to secure his signature.

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