Arsenal near to Mkhitaryan decision amid huge Baku security fears

Date published: Tuesday 21st May 2019 9:56

Arsenal are expected to announce in the next 24 hours whether Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be left out of their Europa League final squad amid security fears.

Arsenal continue to work with the Foreign Office after it emerged season-ticket holders with dual British and Armenian citizenship had been denied visas to visit Baku because of tensions with neighbouring Azerbaijan.

The Gunners are expected to return scores of tickets for the showpiece being hosted in Azerbaijan’s capital on May 29, with fans seemingly unable to travel.

Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham has explained their heartbreak at this to UEFA.

However, the Gunners may also have to do without the services of midfield star Mkhitaryan, who could be forced to miss out due to political tensions.

Mkhitaryan, captain of the Armenia national team, sat out the Europa League group game against Qarabag in Baku earlier this season.

However, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, Tahir Taghizadeh, maintains there is no cause for concern ahead of the final.

Taghizadeh told Sky Sports: “I would say (to Mkhitaryan) ‘you are a pro athlete, you are a footballer, and a class A footballer’, so let’s make sure this is a class A event if our purpose is to make a great final.

“If our purpose is to play political games around it, that is something different, but I hope it is not, because you (Mkhitaryan) are being paid as a footballer, not as a politician, so let’s leave other issues aside.”

The Times, however, believes Mkhitaryan could be overlooked for the game due to a lack of guarantees over his safety.

On another note, Danny Welbeck could yet be a surprise inclusion in the Arsenal squad. The Sun claims Unai Emery will give the striker – who suffered a broken ankle back in November and looked to have played his last game for the club – a chance to play his way into Arsenal’s Europa League final squad this week.

 

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