Hammer blow as Henrikh Mkhitaryan misses Europa League final

Arsenal have announced that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not play in the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku next week.

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

Political tensions have meant that 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.

It’s understood Mkhitaryan has been omitted from the squad for the game due to a lack of guarantees over his safety.

An Arsenal 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.”

Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, Tahir Taghizadeh had maintained there is no cause for concern ahead of the final on May 29.

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.”