Henrikh Mkhitaryan to miss Arsenal's Europa League final in Baku
Azerbaijan FA says Mkhitaryan's decision "will not affect in any manner the quality and the attraction of this great match"
Last Updated: 21/05/19 7:52pm
Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss the Europa League final against Chelsea after opting against travelling to Baku.
There were doubts around the Armenian's status for the final in Azerbaijan due to non-existent diplomatic relations between the two Caucasus states.
In spite of assurances over his safety from Azerbaijan's UK ambassador, Mkhitaryan took the "personal decision" not to travel after discussing the matter with his family, says Arsenal head coach Unai Emery.
"I spoke this morning with Mkhitaryan and it is a very personal decision. He wants to play and to help us, but he spoke with his family and decided not to go," said Emery.
"I don't understand the political problems but I must respect his decision.
"I came from the Basque country and we had a big political in our country, finishing five or six years ago and I can understand. I cannot push him to come with us.
[...] 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 🏆💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼 #uel #final #arsenal #chelsea #AFC #COYG pic.twitter.com/gnDA6oyolw— Henrikh Mkhitaryan (@HenrikhMkh) May 21, 2019
"For me it is very important if he is with us for the match to help us with his quality, but this issue is out of my hands and I respect it 100 per cent."
Arsenal are "disappointed" by the situation and "have written to UEFA expressing our deepest concern".
UEFA say the highest authorities assured the player's safety in Azerbaijan and that a security plan was devised and given to the club, adding that they "respect the personal decision not to travel".
The Azerbaijan FA say Mkhitaryan's decision not to take part in the Europa League final will not affect the "quality and attraction of this great match".
A statement issued on Tuesday read: "We are disappointed to see the statement from Arsenal that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with his team to Baku to participate at the Europa League final against Chelsea next Wednesday.
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"We very much regret this unwarranted decision taken, as we understand, collectively by Arsenal, the player and his family.
"Whilst we recognise the right to make a personal decision not to travel, we would like to reiterate that as the host country Azerbaijan has provided all the necessary guarantees required by UEFA to ensure the personal safety of Mr Mkhitaryan.
"There is no reason whatsoever to put in question the seriousness of these guarantees provided by Azerbaijan. Over the past decade a large number of Armenian athletes have taken part in various international sports events in Azerbaijan without any issues.
"Finally, we believe that this regretful decision will not affect in any manner the quality and the attraction of this great match. We look forward to welcoming both teams in Baku shortly."
Follow the Europa League final on Sky Sports
You can follow all of the action of Chelsea vs Arsenal from Baku on the Sky Sports App and skysports.com with our dedicated Europa League final live blog, which will feature the best build-up, commentary and reaction.
The Europa League final will take place on Wednesday, May 29; Kick-off is at 8pm.