Armel Bella-Kotchap aged 18 years old, plays as a centre-back for VfL Bochum in Bundesliga 2. Crystal Palace have submitted an offer for the teenager according to Matt Woosnam from The Athletic.
The young German defender has only made 14 senior appearances for Bochum and his current contract expires in June 2024. He has also represented Germany at u18 level and represented both Cameroon and France.
Who is Bella-Kotchap
The 18-year old was born in Paris, France but his citizenship is German. He stands at 1.90m (6 ft 3 in) which is some height for a teenager.
Bella-Kotchap started his career at Rot Weiss Ahlen in 2005 and moved to SC Grimlinghausen in 2009 before moving up the ranks to sign for Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach in 2012.
He spent three years there before moving to SG Unterrath and then MSV Duisburg for a year each. Bella-Kotchap then moved to Bochum in 2017 and has remained there since.
The German is famously remembered for giving Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski one of his hardest games of the season in Bochum's 2-1 defeat to Munich in the DFB Cup in the 2019/20 season.
What can he bring to Palace?
Bella-Kotchap has more than justified that he can mix it with the big boys last season when he played against Munich in the DFB Cup second round.
He is known to have a similar playing style to Bayer Leverkusen centre-half Jonathan Tah. The 18-year-old has a hulk-like physical stature and bags of pace to go with his power. He has great readability of the game being able to intercept passes and start an attack for his team.
His strengths are towering defensive headers, balance, stamina and speed. The Eagles' bid is rumoured to be close to the asking price and they would be stupid not to pay it considering the defender's age and promising future.
Interest in Europe
The centre-back has attracted interest from a number of clubs across Europe earlier in the 2019/20 season, including some Premier League teams as well.
It is rumoured that London clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea are also after the signature of the 18-year-old German but it is said that Palace are the front-runners for the young prospect.
The defender kept one of Europe's most clinical strikers quiet and he made his senior debut for Bochum late in the 2018/19 season against FC Erzgebirge Aue.
He is slowly becoming a regular for Bochum in the first-team whilst continuing to play in the u19 Bundesliga West.
What it could mean for Mamadou Sakho's future
The Eagles are starting to look towards the youth in this window with 19-year-old Nathan Ferguson already signed from West Brom.
Last season, Palace fielded an average starting XI of 29 years of age and they will be desperate to lower that number before the start of the 2020/21 season.
Sakho's future at Palace could be coming to an end with his performances dipping towards the end of last season. Regular playing time will be hard to come by if Bella-Kotchap is brought in with Sakho slipping further down the pecking order.
His injury-prone nature is also a factor of a hindrance for him. Lyon are the latest club to show interest for the Frenchman and it wouldn't be a surprise if he was offloaded to make space for young talent.