This season has likely been a disappointing one for Bristol City midfielder Han-Noah Massengo.
The 19-year-old featured far more regularly than many will have expected in what was his debut campaign at Ashton Gate and showed glimpses of why the Robins had spent big on an unknown French teenager.
Injuries, player sales, and Massengo’s performances meant he played nearly 2000 minutes of Championship football in 2019/20 but under Dean Holden his chances have been reduced.
This year, the former Monaco man has played just 296 minutes of league football and opportunities could get even harder to come by – with injured players set to return and Henri Lansbury recently joining the club.
It’s certainly far too soon to talk of a permanent exit but it was a bit of a surprise not to see the teenager go out on loan in the winter transfer window.
The only real links involving Massengo were as part of a player swap-deal with Birmingham City for Kristian Pedersen, with the Birmingham Mail reporting that the Blues rejected such a move late in the window.
Staying in Bs3 may not be an awful scenario as, speaking to the Bristol Post this week, Holden has indicated that the 19-year-old’s attitude has impressed him recently.
“Certainly in recent weeks, he seems to have the bit between his teeth,” said the City boss. “And [is] showing a little bit more physicality in his play.
“He’s a very, very good footballer as we all know. He came really bursting onto the scene at a very young age and with any young player, there’s going to be a time to have some ups and downs.”
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Those comments will be encouraging for Massengo, while Holden even suggested that there could be more game time for him as the season wears on.
The key for the teenager in the second half of 2020/21 is going to be making the most of his opportunities when they do come.
He’s slipped down below the likes of Tyreeq Bakinson, Adam Nagy, and Zak Vyner in the pecking order, while Jamie Paterson and Joe Williams are on their way back, and Lansbury should be available soon – so substitute appearances in the next few weeks are likely to be pivotal.
We know he’s got a fantastic touch and can dazzle technically at times but it’ll be about putting together performances that combine that with consistent passing and holding his own in the physical battle.
If Massengo’s able to do that he may prove to Holden that despite the returning injured players, he does has a role to play this season and moving forward.
If not, then a short-term loan deal in the summer is a next step that would suit both the player and the club the best.