Bristol City approach pivotal time on player contracts as Han-Noah Massengo talks continue

Robins must tie down the Frenchman to fresh terms or are likely to have sell in the summer.

Han-Noah Masengo has attracted interest from abroad for a second transfer window. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Han-Noah Masengo has attracted interest from abroad for a second transfer window. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Han-Noah Masengo has attracted interest from abroad for a second transfer window. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Bristol City continue to talk to their key players about signing new contracts with the West Country club.

Manager Nigel Pearson explained on Thursday that there is no resolution to contract wrangling with central midfield talent Han-Noah Massengo, with discussions having rumbled on for almost a month now.

“No [no update]. Not as far as I know. We’re trying to get to an agreement with him but he’s not overly involved in that,” said Pearson.

“He wants to concentrate on his football, we are very keen to get to some sort of conclusion and when there is an update we’ll let you know.

“It’s one of those where we’re trying to secure him for a long time,” explained the manager.

Massengo will have one year left on his four-year deal that he signed in the summer of 2019, come the summer. The Monaco wonderkid will still only be 21 by then.

There has been transfer speculation concerning the Frenchman in the last two windows, with Premier League Watford keen last summer, and high-flying Freiburg of the Bundesliga reportedly eyeing the player in January, although no official bid was made.

And the sharks may continue to circle while there is no resolution on Massengo’s long-term future.

If nothing is agreed in the next months, it will heavily hint that a sale is coming in the summer, as City address their financial position - following announcing a £38.4m pre-tax loss last December - with the player down to just one year on his current contract, and able to leave for a minor fee the year after (as under 23).

Bristol City’s financial situation may also rear its head at some point and play a part, something mentioned by Pearson at the pre-Blackpool press conference on Thursday.

“I’m not wet behind the ears so I don’t expect everyone to stay here indefinitely, maybe there may be the necessity to sell one of our talented players at some point for us to negotiate a way through this next period of time but the intention is not to sell them,” he said.

The Robins aim to keep a nucleus of good players together at the club and move forward together. But the money may talk loudly next summer.

Before then there will be quite the roar from the City faithful when and if the Frenchman scores his first goal for the Robins.

The manager was also asked if he sees a maturity in Massengo this season, with the player having played 16 of Bristol City’s 29 league games in 2021/22. Preston fans gushed at the Paris-born box-to-box man’s display at Deepdale last weekend.

Preston skipper Alan Browne is trackjed by Bristol City's Hasn-Noah Massengo
Preston skipper Alan Browne is trackjed by Bristol City's Hasn-Noah Massengo
Preston skipper Alan Browne is trackjed by Bristol City's Hasn-Noah Massengo

“I think that’s for you to comment on, not me,” Pearson answered. “What I would say is he’s been able to play his way through a very difficult patch of form that he had.

“He’s been really good recently but when he’s not been at his best he knows that and he worked hard at his game.

“For a young player to have the opportunity, whether that is circumstances or selection, what he has done is found a way of being game effective and dealing with his own disappointment that he hasn’t being playing as well as he can do and that speaks volumes in itself.

“He’s another young player who’s forging his own career and he’s doing very well,” said Pearson.

With young talents Cam Pring (24; contracted until 2024 with a year’s option), Ayman Benarous (18; until 2025) and Alex Scott (18; until 2025) all signed up on new long-term deals this season, the club is doing a good job tying down its best assets. But there is work still to do.

What happens next with Massengo (20), and Antoine Semenyo (22), will be vital viewing for Bristol City fans, with the forward much coveted in January too and with some clubs to follow that up again next summer.

Could a new deal be agreed with Semenyo as well as Massengo? And will one influence the other? Every ounce of leverage should be used by the club to get a favourable result. Crunch time awaits.