Saturday, May 28, 2022

Henrikh Mkhitaryan Out Of Europa League Final Against Chelsea – Arsenal Confirms 

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Arsenal have confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be part of their Europa League final squad against Chelsea due to concerns over his safety as a result of political tensions between his native Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The final will be held in Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku on May 29, but as a result of ongoing hostility between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, it has been decided that Mkhitaryan will not take part.

The 30-year-old playmaker was absent for Arsenal’s game against Azerbaijani side Qarabag earlier in the season, while he was also left out of former club Borussia Dortmund’s travelling party for a Europa League game against Gabala in 2015 due to similar concerns.

A club statement read: ‘We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our Uefa Europa League final against Chelsea. 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.’

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Shortly after Arsenal’s statement had been released, Mkhitaryan took to Instagram to confirm his unavailability, saying: ‘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. 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.’

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Earlier this month, Arsenal launched a stinging criticism of UEFA over their handling of the issue, saying that they had been unable to obtain ‘acceptable guarantees’ from the organisation over security and safety concerns regarding Mkhitaryan.

On Monday afternoon, prior to Arsenal’s statement being released, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, Tahir Taghizadeh sought to give assurances that Mkhitaryan would be safe to travel to the country.

He said: ‘My message to Mkhitaryan would be: you’re a footballer, you want to play football? Go to Baku, you are safe there. If you want to play the issue then that’s a different story.’ Mkhitaryan has been a prominent player during Arsenal’s run to the final featuring in 11 of their 14 matches and providing three assists in total.

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Photo Credit: Getty

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