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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Mkhitaryan 'hurt' to miss Europa

Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be involved in the Europa League final after Arsenal confirmed he would not travel with the squad.

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

Therefore the Gunners have decided against him travelling to Baku for next Wednesday's game with Chelsea.

A 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."

The former Manchester United man admitted he is "hurt" to miss the showpiece event.

He tweeted: "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."

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

It said in a statement: "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."

Gunners defender Stephan Lichtsteiner admitted Mkhitaryan's absence is a blow to their chances of lifting the trophy.

Lichtsteiner said: "He's a big miss for us of course, because he is a really important player.

"But we understand his decision because it is dangerous for him. We'll miss him a lot because he is very important for our team."

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