Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan to Miss Europa Final against Chelsea

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Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not play in the Europa League final against Chelsea on 29 May.

It is understood the Armenian, 30, feared for his safety on the pitch in Baku, Azerbaijan.

“Having considered all current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League final,” said Mkhitaryan.

“It’s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often and I admit, it hurts a lot to miss it.”

As a result of political tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Mkhitaryan has missed club matches played in Azerbaijan in the past.

“We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation,” read an Arsenal statement.

“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.

“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.”

UEFA responded to Arsenal with a statement that said: “Working alongside Arsenal FC, UEFA sought and received assurances regarding the player’s safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities in the country.

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

“While the club acknowledges the efforts that UEFA and the Azeri government have gone to in this matter, we respect the personal decision not to travel with the player.”

The Azerbaijan FA said they were “disappointed” that Mkhitaryan would not be travelling

In a statement, the AFFA said: “We very much regret this unwarranted decision taken. Whilst we recognise the right to make a personal decision not to travel, we would like to reiterate that as the host country Azerbaijan has provided all the necessary guarantees required by UEFA to ensure the personal safety of Mr Mkhitaryan.

“There is no reason whatsoever to put in question the seriousness of these guarantees provided by Azerbaijan.”

Arsenal, who finished fifth in the Premier League, will qualify for next season’s Champions League if they beat Chelsea.

It would be their first European trophy since they won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery said: “He wants to play with the team, but he spoke with his family and decided not to go.

“It’s a very, very personal decision and we need to respect him. I don’t understand the political problems but I must respect his decision.”