Arsenal confirm Mkhitaryan won't go to Baku for Europa League final

Ross Houston
May 22, 2019

Fears for the 30-year-old Mkhitaryan's safety while in Baku were compounded last week when Azerbaijan refused to grant entry visas to a slew of Arsenal fans who wanted to attend the match. Over the past decade a large number of Armenian athletes have taken part in various worldwide sports events in Azerbaijan without any issues.

Mkhitaryan had featured in 11 games during the Europa League campaign and his absence will be a big blow as Arsenal look for the victory they need to qualify for next season's Champions League.

"I spoke this morning with Mkhitaryan".

"It is very personal also".

The Gunners have decided against Mkhitaryan travelling with the rest of Unai Emery's squad for next Wednesday's game against their London rivals. I don't understand the political problems, but I must respect (his decision).

"I think UEFA needs to know about the different problems they can have with the politics in the country".

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech says he is yet to make a decision about his future, despite being linked with a return to former club Chelsea in a new sporting director role.

"As a result of these guarantees, a comprehensive security plan was developed and given to the club".

UEFA responsed in a statement saying: "Working alongside Arsenal FC, UEFA sought and received assurances regarding the player's safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities in the country. I respect him, and for me it's very important that he could be there to help us with his qualities, but the issue is not in my hands, and I respect that 100 per cent".

Meanwhile the Azerbaijan FA says it is determined not to let the situation cast a political shadow over the hosting of the event, saying: "Over the past decade a large number of Armenian athletes have taken part in various global sports events in Azerbaijan without any issues".

Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Arsenal celebrates after scoring against Southampton in an EPL match in December.

He tweeted: "It's the kind of game that doesn't come along very often for us players and I must admit, it hurts me a lot to miss it". I will be cheering my teammates on!

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will have to stay home when Arsenal flies to Baku for the Europa League final.

The Gunners announced on Tuesday that Mkhitaryan will not travel with the club to Baku, Azerbaijan, the site of the Europa League final, because of safety concerns over the political tensions between his native country Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"Micki has been a key player in our run to the final", Arsenal said, "so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective".

Emery, a three-time Europa League victor with Sevilla, indicated the decision was made by Mkhitaryan and not the club, but he understands the midfielder's reasoning.

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