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Interviews

MANAGER: We wish them both well

Keith Millen on Jon Dinzeyi and Keelan Leslie

3 January 2022

United boss Keith Millen confirmed this afternoon that defender Jonathan Dinzeyi has returned to parent club Arsenal following a half-season spell with the Blues.

The 22-year-old was a summer deadline signing and made three appearances, including one in the league when he was at the heart of the defence for the October home game against Forest Green.

“I’ve been speaking to Arsenal quite regularly just to give them updates on where he is,” the manager explained. “He was one of the lads that unfortunately went down with Covid.

“I spoke to him because I was concerned about the amount of game time he’s had, both before I got here and since I’ve been here.

“I know Jonathan from when we were at Tottenham together, so I talked to Arsenal and I told them that I wasn’t sure how much more game time he was going to get.

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“He was obviously here to fight for his place, like everyone is, and he hadn’t had anywhere near enough pitch time.

“His contract is running out and he needs to play football from now to the end of the season, for the sake of his own career.

“He’s one where you think - is it right to keep him here. He’s a London lad, a long way from home, he isn’t playing, and that makes it difficult.

“It’s the right thing to do, he understood that and Arsenal understood as well. He’s gone back there and I think he’s looking to try and get somewhere else on loan to get some game time.”

And there was also confirmation that midfielder Keelan Leslie has been allowed to leave the club as his short-term deal, agreed at the end of his youth scholarship programme in May, has come to a close.

“Keelan is a lad I obviously inherited when I came in,” he commented. “The club gave him a six-month deal and he’s been unfortunate because he hasn’t really had a chance around the first team.

“I think it’s important for young players that if their pathway is blocked, you need to think about how they can progress their career.

“I could have easily said he could stay for another six months, but I don’t think it’s right for him to do that to him.

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“He needs to go and play football somewhere and get seen. I didn’t see him being in and around the first team, and young players need first team football.

“Hopefully he finds himself a club and goes out there and proves us wrong. Who knows, one day he might come back here and cost us money.”

“With Keelan, I spoke to him before Christmas, just to give him a heads-up and some chance, but he knows he’s more than welcome to come back and train every day,” he added.

“I’ve got no problems with that, if he wants to come back in and keep fit until he finds himself another club, he knows that offer’s there for him.”

“It goes without saying that I wish them both well,” he told us. “They were good to work with, and it’s always difficult when players leave who you get on well with.

“Sometimes that isn’t always the case, so you try to explain to them the reasons why you’re doing it and you try to make them understand that it’s for their own good.

“It isn’t a selfish reason, it’s because I’m trying to help them to get their careers going.”

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