Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan would not be joining the team that would play Chelsea at the Europa League Final match in Azerbaijan, next week.
This became unavoidable as the midfielder’s native country, Armenia, and the host country have had recurring political conflicts that may put him in danger if he is included in the lineup.
After initial consultations, Arsenal was forced to make an announcement concerning the development in a bid to ensure the safety of the team, and also keep fans aware.
In its announcement, the Premier League club stated, “We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea,” an Arsenal statement announced on Tuesday.
“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.”
Although an ambassador from Azerbaijan in the UK reassured that Mkhitaryan would not be harmed in any way when his team visits the country, the midfielder himself has reportedly stated that he was not certain he’d be safe, so it was best he stayed back in England.
Through his official Twitter account, Mkhitaryan wrote, “Having considered all the current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the UEL Final against Chelsea.”
“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’s statement further reads:
“We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation.
“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 has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.”
Mkhitaryan’s country, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in constant politically motivated wars, dating as far back as the early 1990s where Armenians hijacked one Nagorny Karabakh territory which saw the death of over 30,000 individuals from both countries.