Henrikh Mkhitaryan makes final admission, despite UEFA assurances

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s decision not to play for Arsenal in the Europa League final was a “personal” one, despite UEFA receiving assurances regarding the player’s safety in Azerbaijan.


The Armenia international’s safety in Baku was a concern due to the dispute between his country and host nation Azerbaijan.

Therefore the former Man Utd man decided against him travelling to Baku for next Wednesday’s showpiece with Chelsea.

Mkhitaryan wrote on Twitter: “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”.

UEFA later insisted that a “comprehensive security plan” was in place for Mkhitaryan.

It said in a statement released to Press Association Sport: “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.”

Unai Emery revealed Mkhitaryan took the decision to miss the final after debating his involvement with both the Arsenal manager and his family.

“I discussed this with Mkhitaryan. It’s a very personal decision,” Gunners boss 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).

“I cannot push him to come with us. These issues are out of my hands and I understand 100 per cent.”

An earlier Arsenal statement read: “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.”

The playmaker has featured in 11 games during the the Gunners’ run to a first European final since 2006.

The statement added: “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.”