Arsenal have confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss next week’s Europa League final against Chelsea.
Ever since Arsenal‘s place in next weeks final was confirmed, there have been doubts as to whether Mkhitaryan would be able to feature, due to the ongoing political tensions between Azerbaijan and his home nation of Armenia.
The two countries have long disputed the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and there have been fears that Mkhitaryan could be used as a political pawn in the war that dates back to 1988.
While Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, Tahir Taghizadeh, had personally guaranteed the 30-year-old’s safety, Arsenal have announced that they have taken the difficult decision to leave their playmaker behind for the game against Chelsea on May 29th.
“We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our Uefa Europa League final against Chelsea,” a statement on the Arsenal website reads.
“We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party.
“We have written to Uefa expressing our deep concerns about this situation. Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.
“We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.
“Micki will continue to be part of our preparations until we depart for Baku at the weekend.”
The Gunners number 7 has played in 11 of Arsenal’s 14 Europa League games, but was also forced out of the trip to face Azerbaijani side Qarabag back in October due to the same issue, and speaking about being forced to miss out once more, he has admitted that his latest exclusion ‘hurts’.
“Having considered all the current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League Final,” Mkhitaryan wrote on Instagram.
“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! Let’s bring it home Arsenal.”