Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel to the Europa League final in Azerbaijan, it has been confirmed.
It is understood the Armenian, 30, feared for his safety on the pitch in Baku, Azerbaijan, should he have travelled.
The former Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United midfielder has played 11 games in the Europa League for Arsenal this season, but has taken the decision to opt out of the all-English final against London rivals Chelsea.
“Having considered all current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League final,” said Mkhitaryan.
“It’s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often and I admit, it hurts a lot to miss it.”
With the increased political tensions between Azerbaijan and his native land, Mkhitaryan has missed club matches played in Azerbaijan in the past. The Azerbaijan FA said they were “disappointed” that Mkhitaryan would not be travelling, while the Gunners themselves have taken steps to try and court UEFA into acting on the matter.
“We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation,” read an Arsenal statement.
“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.
“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.”
UEFA have confirmed that “a comprehensive security plan was developed and given to the club”, though they insist they respect Mkhitaryan’s decision not to travel.
Arsenal are 3.10 to win the Europa League final, with Chelsea slight favourites at 2.38 and the draw priced at 3.25.