Back in August 2020, Crystal Palace failed to sign Armel Bella-Kotchap after submitting a bid to VfL Bochum, before Southampton wrapped up a deal in June earlier this year. At the time of interest from Crystal Palace, The Athletic claimed the south Londoners and VfL Bochum were not far away from agreeing a fee for the Germany Under-21 international. However, a deal failed to materialise, and Southampton signed the 20-year-old for just £8.6m earlier this summer.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
Well, Bella-Kotchap went straight into the starting XI after Ralph Hasenhuttl watched the likes of Jan Bednarek, Mohammed Salisu and Yan Valery struggle in the opening day 4-1 defeat to Tottenham.
Since then, Southampton have won two and drawn one of the four games Bella-Kotchap has started, and he even grabbed an assist in the 2-1 win over Leicester as the Saints came from behind to win. It was in the 2-1 win over Chelsea last time out that many people started to sit up and take notice of the Paris-born defender, who played like a £50m centre-back against the Blues.
Bella-Kotchap marshalled the likes of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling extremely well, and was even named Man of the Match by Sky Sports as a result of his efforts.
SOUTHAMPTON MAKE CRYSTAL PALACE LOOK SILLY
The south Londoners have recruited well in recent times, with the signings of Michael Olise, Marc Guéhi, Joachim Andersen, Eberechi Eze and Cheick Doucoure particularly impressive bits of business. However, Dougie Freedman – Director of Football at Selhurst Park – surely regrets missing out on Bella-Kotchap.
In truth, we’re surprised that Crystal Palace didn’t make another move for the youngster this summer, as their deadline day bid for Peterborough centre-back Ronnie Edwards suggests Patrick Vieira wanted reinforcements in that department. Only time will tell for certain, but it appears Crystal Palace have lost out on a gem to Southampton.