sport news Southampton's Armel Bella-Kotchap is turning heads and could make Germany debut ... trends now

sport news Southampton's Armel Bella-Kotchap is turning heads and could make Germany debut ... trends now
sport news Southampton's Armel Bella-Kotchap is turning heads and could make Germany debut ... trends now

sport news Southampton's Armel Bella-Kotchap is turning heads and could make Germany debut ... trends now

Inspired by Rio Ferdinand and potentially wanted as a long-term successor to Virgil van Dijk. For a young centre half making his way in English football, they aren't bad names to be linked with.

It's only a little more than three months since Armel Bella-Kotchap moved to Southampton for £10million from Bundesliga side VfL Bochum, but he's faced up and risen above every challenge in his path so far.

The defender was fast-tracked into Germany's senior squad this month after just six appearances in the Premier League, and he could make his full international debut against England tonight, aged just 20.

So who is the wonderkid already reminiscent of his 'hero' Rio Ferdinand, on whom he models his game, was identified by former Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick as a top emerging talent, and is already being eyed up by Liverpool

Below, Sportsmail profiles Bella-Kotchap, the man who could be lining up against the likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling at Wembley.

Armel Bella-Kotchap could make his Germany debut against England at Wembley tonight

Armel Bella-Kotchap could make his Germany debut against England at Wembley tonight

The Southampton defender has impressed since a £10m Premier League move this summer

The Southampton defender has impressed since a £10m Premier League move this summer

Early career 

Born in Paris to Cameroon international Cyrille Florent Bella, Armel bounced around the youth teams of five German sides before eventually settling at Bochum aged 16.

He broke through at the second-tier outfit aged 16, signing his first professional contract in April 2019 and making his senior debut one month later against Erzgebirge Aue.

The following campaign yielded just 14 appearances in all competitions, but obviously proved a valuable learning experience as the teenager then became a regular starter in 2020-21, helping the Blues gain promotion under Thomas Reis.

In his first season in the Bundesliga, Bella-Kotchap once again took the step up in his stride, making 22 league appearances and helping his side stay up with ease, finishing nine points above the relegation zone.

Centre half Bella-Kotchap began his career with German side VfL Bochum as a teenager

Centre half Bella-Kotchap began his career with German side VfL Bochum as a teenager

Although there were mistakes along the way, he helped Bochum gain promotion in 2020-21

Although there were mistakes along the way, he helped Bochum gain promotion in 2020-21

Identified by Ralf Rangnick 

Realising his talent early, Chelsea reportedly tried to sign him in 2020 - and they weren't the only big English club on his tail.

According to The Sun, then-Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick identified Bella-Kotchap as one of several top talents in Germany, along with Florian Wirtz, Luca Netz and Eric Martel.

German boss Rangnick, now head of the Austria national team, is renowned for spotting promising youngsters.

As it turns out, United waited until new manager Erik ten Hag was installed this summer before backing him in the transfer market, sanctioning a £55m outlay on Ajax centre half Lisandro Martinez and backing out-of-form captain Harry Maguire.

The Red Devils may well be regretting the decision not to stump up the cash for Bella-Kotchap now. 

Former Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick identified him as a top emerging talent

Former Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick identified him as a top emerging talent

Impressing at Saints 

The Saints, who bet their Premier League survival on raw, unproven players like Romeo Lavia, Gavin Bazunu, Samuel Edozie and Juan Larios from Manchester City and Sekou Mara from Bordeaux, were not going to make that mistake.

They snapped

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