Speaking in an interview with Bild, former Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl has praised the development of 20-year-old central-defender Armel Bella-Kotchap, who joined the Premier League club in the summer for €11m.
“He’s a one-on-one monster,” said Hasenhüttl. “Very strong in one-on-one situations and he’s very fast. You can defend well with him. He plays good passes into the final third, even over longer distances. [But] his heading game can be improved [when attacking corners].”
On Bella-Kotchap’s nomination for the World Cup, Hasenhüttl added: “It was very impressive how he asserted himself in the strongest league in the world.”
Under Hasenhüttl, Bella-Kotchap played 10 games and has played under new Saints manager, Nathan Jones. His performances over the last 24 months for Bochum and then Southampton earned the 20-year-old defender a first national team call-up. Bella-Kotchap was then given his Germany debut by Hansi Flick on September 26, in a 3-3 draw against England, his only cap so far.
Bella-Kotchap is unlikely to get any playing time in Qatar unless any injuries occur, but there’s no denying the talent. A German defender of the future, being a member of the World Cup squad will be an experience in itself.
Germany open their tournament with a Group E game against Japan on November 23.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder