Arsenal are “hugely concerned” Henrikh Mkhitaryan may not play in the Europa League final because of political tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the BBC reports.
The final against Chelsea will be held in Azerbaijan capital Baku on 29 May.
“The safety and security of all of our players is of paramount importance,” an Arsenal spokesperson said.
We are seeking guarantees from Uefa that it will be safe for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to travel to Baku for the Europa League final, which both Arsenal and Micki require for him to be included within our squad.
“Acceptable guarantees have not been received yet, and we hope that Uefa will be able to supply these promptly.
“We are of course hugely concerned that the location of the final could lead to Micki not being able to play in a European final.”
Meanwhile, TASS news agency quoted UEFA as saying that the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan had assured the Armenian midfielder would face no problems visiting the county.
“Sending letters to football associations, clubs and embassies to get obtaining visas for players to participate in matches under the auspices of UEFA in other countries is a standard organizational procedure,” UEFA said, according to TASS.
The European football governing body said “UEFA and Arsenal have requested confirmation, and the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan has confirmed that the player will not have problems with entry and stay in the country, as well as that all necessary security measures will be taken.”
Arsenal will face Chelsea in Europa League final.
Armenia captain Mkhitaryan has missed games in Azerbaijan for Arsenal and former club Dortmund in recent years.
There are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan because of a longstanding Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
While playing for Borussia Dortmund in 2015, Mkhitaryan did not travel for a Europa League tie against Azerbaijan Premier League side Gabala because of security concerns.
And he also missed Arsenal’s 3-0 Europa League win at FK Qarabag in October, with manager Unai Emery saying “he cannot travel here.”
Ermenistan Kamu Radyosu