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Han-Noah Massengo: Learning from the best

At 18 years of age, Han-Noah Massengo has already faced some of the world’s top players and it’s those experiences which have him fired up to become one of the best himself.

He may carry the weight of his hair on his young shoulders, but French youth international Massengo is a player taking it all in his stride.

In his first season in English football, the central midfielder has played 23 of City's 37 league games to date, featuring on the pitch for 1,817 minutes.

His arrival in the summer of 2019 marked an expansion in the way City operate in the transfer market and he needed no time to settle into his new surroundings, having arrived in Bristol from Monaco.

Coincidentally, the young French international’s first taste of English football came against Queen’s Park Rangers, as he went up against Mark Warburton’s side twice in three days.

And only less than 12 months earlier, the central midfielder was chucked straight into an AS Monaco team up against the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.

Afobe ruffles Massengo's hair after victory

“Those experiences in Ligue 1 and the Champions Europe were very tough but thanks to those matches it gave me great experience,” Massengo said.

“I played against Antoine Griezmann and Christian Pulisic, and it makes you look at what you have to do to be like them, to get to the top so it was very good experiences.

“I think the toughest opponent was Atletico Madrid. That was my first start as a professional, in a big stadium.

“But I think the best opponent I have played was Kylian Mbappé. He started at Monaco as did I. I started in the Academy when he was starting out and I watched every game he played. He was a dream. Probably him or Neymar are the best players I have played against.

“This guy is crazy good. He does everything so quickly and I think if I want to be the best, to improve I need to use these players as my inspiration. They always want to be the best and do the best they can."

Following his summer move to BS3, Massengo’s first start came in the Carabao Cup. He played the full 90 minutes in West London and after coming on as a substitute in the league game days later, he has not looked back.

Debutant Massengo v QPR, chased by future teammate Nahki Wells

“It was good, I remember I had cramp after 70 minutes” he said, reflecting on his debut. “I was really, really tired but it was a good game to play in. The Championship was more intense. In Monaco I didn’t play a lot of professional football but the Championship is always intense. You have to be focused always because if you are not, the opponent can pull away with a goal.”

"I think it has been good," he said when assessing the early days of his career in English football. "Honestly, I didn’t expect everything I have felt from the fans, from my teammates the coaches, the gaffer. Everything is good and I like that. Everything has gone better than expected.”

Then of course there is the famous song and even Han-Noah’s brother joined Section 82 to join in the sing-along!

Massengo said: “I like this song the fans have made for me. When they sing my name it is amazing, it’s beautiful. In Monaco it wasn’t the same, I think English culture is different and they love football. I like hearing it!

“But the best thing about my move has been that I am playing regularly. At Monaco I played only seven games and after two months with the first team I was in the second team. Here I am part of the first team, I am playing and that is best for me because I want to improve and become more experienced.

“I was attracted by the project, when the gaffer spoke to me about this and what he wants from me and how I can develop here and immediately I want to come here. I’m glad to be here.”

Watch: The day Massengo signed

 

Massengo's 2019/20 stats

  • Appearances: 25 (all competitions)
  • Passes: 684
  • Pass success rate: 80%
  • Average passes per game: 30
  • Tackles: 30
  • Interceptions: 34
  • International appearances (France U19s): 6

This interview first appeared in the Bristol City matchday programme.