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While Chelsea have lost Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi through injury for the Europa League final, Arsenal will also have a key player absent in the final due to political tensions.
The Gunners have confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be part of their Europa League final squad against Chelsea due to concerns over his safety as a result of political tensions between his native Armenia and Azerbaijan.
There’s ongoing hostility between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, and it has affected Mkhitaryan who’s an Armenian national.
The 30-year-old playmaker was absent for Arsenal’s game against Azerbaijani side Qarabag earlier in the season due to the tensions, while he was also left out of former club Borussia Dortmund’s travelling party for a Europa League game against Gabala in 2015 due to similar concerns. And he’d now miss the Europa League final, the club has confirmed.
Arsenal have released a club statement that 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.”
Mkhitaryan took to Instagram to confirm his unavailability, saying: “Having considered all the current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League Final.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is now fit for the Europa League final and has been training with his teammates ahead of the clash.