Han-Noah Massengo is one of Bristol City’s most coveted players, and the Robins will do well to hold on to the all-action central midfielder beyond this summer.
With a contract ending in 2023, it may be decision time for all parties in the next few months. The club has conducted talks over a new contract but despite CEO Richard Gould saying previously that he would like to keep the Frenchman for the next 10 years, nothing has been agreed.
Watford, Freiburg, Leicester City and Southampton have all been reported as interested in the 20-year-old, who has started 22 of City’s 36 league games this season, with another six appearances from the bench.
And BristolWorld can add that Bournemouth recently watched the player too - as well as French giants Olympique Lyonnais.
With respect to the Cherries, the attraction of a top European side may be tough to turn down for any player, especially a Paris-born midfielder, should scouting develop into anything more concrete.
Former Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson has previously said that the Championship is one of the best leagues in the world beyond the top five in Europe, and a haven for football talent. So it seems, with Djed Spence reportedly interesting Bayern Munich, full-back Omar Richards having moved there already from Reading and Jude Bellingham jumping to Borussia Dortmund in 2020.
There will be confidence that further young second tier talents can make the step up too.
The Ligue 1 outfit are currently seventh in the French top tier and in a fight for European football, and are keeping a close eye on many top young talents the world over.
Les Gones recently dispatched their European scout Alex Jeannin to watch Massengo play at Ashton Gate, taking in the win over Reading in January.
Jeannin knows the South West well having played for Bristol Rovers previously, albeit just the one game in 2005, against Wycombe Wanderers in a 1-0 win in League Two.
The former left-back, 44, spent two years playing in the National League for Exeter City before that, and after time at the Mem, headed on to Hereford United and a year at Oxford United.
Spells at Kidderminster Harriers, Darlington, Mansfield Town, Truro City and Weymouth have also formed a 10-year career playing in English football, after Jeannin came through at Troyes in north central France.
Jeannin joined the current team of former England-based players Jason Denayer, Tanguy Ndombele and Jerome Boateng back in 2020 at the request of then OL manager Bruno Cheyrou.
He gave a local French interview back then on his scout role and what it entails, as he covers the UK for the football club of France’s third largest city.
“My friend Bruno Cheyrou took over the OL recruitment unit [composed of three recruiters, Michel Rouquette, Patrice Girard and Jeannin in addition to Cheyrou], he needed to expand his group and asked me if I was interested,” said Jeannin.
“I met the leaders of Lyon and I went there, in a totally different project from the one that was mine in the women’s section of PSG [he had coached PSG’s women for the previous two years]. It is not an easy function, you are always on planes, on the road,” he added.
Jeannin was a National League play-off winner with Hereford back in 2006, a highlight from his decade playing in the UK. He still keeps in touch with that club and played in a testimonial there a few years ago.
And the former Racing Club Paris player says that travelling often and everywhere is no issue for him.
“I’m a wanderer. I did England, Doha, Dubai, I’m single, I can live anywhere. There was no real brake for me to accept this proposal. It’s more technical as a job [than the previous one], there are more opportunities in men’s football. Watching players is something interesting,” he said of his job.
“Following a match on video and a match live, it’s not the same. You don’t have the same angle of observation. On video, you are obliged to follow the ball, you cannot follow only a player. Our job is much more objective when we watch a match live, from the stands,” he explained of scouting.
He has explained previously that he watches 8-10 games a week on average. Joining Lyon was an opportunity “that could not be turned down”.
Speaking specifically of his network of contacts, Jeannin paid tribute to working in England for 15 years.
Massengo has interest from all over Europe and if he moves in the next transfer window and it is to France then the reports on the ground may well have been influential.
“We scour as many matches as possible. In Holland, for example, I saw six games in one weekend, that’s almost 150 players. We have to optimise the weekend as much as possible,” he explained.
“It’s up to us to have an eye to spot elements that stand out. We can get information to be referred. The professional network plays a lot. In fifteen years in England, I have known a lot of people in football, agents, coaches. I got to know people who work at FIFA, UEFA… Naturally, my network has grown.”