Arsenal have confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be included in the squad for next week’s Europa League final with Chelsea.
While not explicitly stating the reason, a statement confirms that after consultation with the midfielder and his family, it has been decided by all parties that it is better for him not to travel to Azerbaijan.
Mkhitaryan was granted a visa for the trip – something the Azerbaijan government were pressured into issuing by UEFA – but it has seemingly been deemed unwise to risk his safety in the country due to the ongoing political situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The club had written to UEFA 11 days ago seeking assurances on behalf of Mkhitaryan. Not only were those not forthcoming, the Azerbaijan ambassador to the UK yesterday spoke in somewhat sinister terms yesterday about what would happen if Micki ‘played the issue’.
In a statement on Arsenal.com, the club said: “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.”
In a statement released on Instagram, Mkhitaryan, who scored in the 2017 final for Manchester United against Ajax, said: “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 hurst me a lot to miss it. I will be cheering my teammates on! Let’s bring it home.”
Honestly, this is a disgraceful situation and one that should make UEFA hang their collective heads in shame.