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Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan ‘hurt’ to miss Europa League final over safety fears | World News

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Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan says he is “hurt” after confirming he will miss the Europa League final due to fears for his safety.

The north London club announced Mkhitaryan will not travel with the squad amid concerns about political tension between his native Armenia and Azerbaijan, where the match against Chelsea is being played.

Hostility remains between the neighbouring countries over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where a ceasefire was declared in 1994 after fighting erupted several years earlier.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
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Arsenal described Mkhitaryan as a ‘key player’

Writing on Twitter, Mkhitaryan, 30, said he’d taken the “tough decision” not to travel after considering “all the current options”.

“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,” he wrote.

“I will be cheering my teammates on! Let’s bring it home Arsenal.”

In a statement, Arsenal said they were “very disappointed” that Mkhitaryan will miss the final and they have written to UEFA to express their “deep concerns”.

“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 club said.

“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.”

Arsenal are taking on their London rivals in the Europa League final in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on 29 May, with fans facing a two-day, 2,500-mile trip to get to the game.

There has been criticism of the number of tickets allocated to supporters of the two clubs, with each club getting 6,000 tickets at the 70,000-capacity stadium.

Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan meant Mkhitaryan did not travel to a Europa League game while playing for Borussia Dortmund when they took on Gabala in October 2015.

The midfielder joined Arsenal in 2018, having previously won the Europa League with his former club Manchester United, scoring in the final in a 2-0 victory over Ajax.

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