‘A driving force’: how Massengo is adjusting to life away from the city of Bristol and his future

Unless there’s a big U-turn in Han-Noah Massengo’s career, he almost certainly played his last game for Bristol City.

However, his popularity on BS3 combined with his potential provides intrigue when it comes to where his career will take him, both in the short and long term. Massengo’s contract expires at the end of June while he fulfills the remainder of his contract with Ligue 1 side Auxerre.

Immersed in a battle against the fall, the 21-year-old has been a key player in the team since he arrived on loan during the January transfer window. He started the last eight games with Auxerre losing just once and conceding three times in the process.

His regular run of football and form earned him a call-up to the French national youth setup, playing for their Under-21 team against England and Spain during the recent international break. During a press conference last week, Massengo confirmed that his future was in the back of his mind, but the priority remained to keep his team in the top flight.

We spoke to Auxerre journalist Nicolas Fillon who provided insight into Massengo’s performance in France and his thoughts on the player’s future beyond the campaign.

How would you rate Massengo’s start at Auxerre?

Massengo plays in a two-man midfield, in AJA’s 5-2-3 system. He is box-to-box with the captain, Birama Touré. He played his first game for Auxerre on February 1, coming on as a substitute in a 3-2 loss to Monaco, his former club.

In the next game, against Reims, he celebrated his debut as a starter with a 0-0 draw against one of the surprise teams in the Championship. He then made a series of starts and was one of the key elements in turning AJA around (in his eight starts in Ligue 1, Auxerre lost just once, won three and drew four). Thanks to him, Auxerre has regained stability in the midfield and is one of the driving forces of the team, acting as a link between attack and defence.

How would you assess your strengths and weaknesses?

His strengths include a very high volume of play and runs, his stamina and his vision of the game. His pressure and ability to find himself in the right areas to intercept the ball or make himself available to his teammates are also very effective even though he is capable of making an honest mistake. As he plays in a box-to-box midfield in a two-man midfield, he attacks as much as he defends and is everywhere on the field.

His weaknesses include his finishing in front of goal, but he gives so much elsewhere on the pitch that it’s hard to blame him, and his aerial ability. He still needs to learn to cut corners on himself a bit (he can disappear a bit at times during the game), and he can be guilty of conceding fouls: he’s already had two yellow cards in eight Ligue 1 games.

Massengo fights for the ball against Rominigue Kouame(Image: ARNAUD FINISTRE/AFP via Getty Images)

He is out of contract in the summer, do you think his performances will attract long-term interest from Auxerre?

He seems to be enjoying himself at Auxerre, but given the qualities he’s shown since his arrival – and he’s also just played his first two games for the France under-21 team – it shouldn’t take long for the bigger teams to take an interest in him.

According to the newspaper L’Equipe, he is one of the highest earners in the club, it is estimated that he is around €50,000 gross per month. It goes without saying that it will be very difficult to maintain it if the AJA goes down to the second division.

Has there been any transfer talk in France about your future?

We interviewed AJA CEO Baptiste Malherbe on our ‘100% AJA’ show on France Bleu Auxerre on March 6, and this is what he had to say when talking about players on loan this winter, such as Massengo: “We’d like some of the guys to be able to stay with us, but for that to happen, we need to keep our place (in the league).

“There will be discussions at the end of the season with everyone, but we need to keep our place. We will do everything we can to keep the best of them with us.”

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