Henrikh Mkhitaryan made 'very personal decision' to miss Europa League final according to Arsenal boss Unai Emery
PUBLISHED: 18:35 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:36 21 May 2019
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Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan made the 'very personal decision' to miss next Wednesday's Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku, according to Unai Emery.
The club confirmed in a statement on Tuesday morning that the Armenian would miss the final due to political tension between his homeland and Azerbaijan - where the final is being held.
Despite assurances over his safety from the Azerbaijani government, Mkhitaryan will not travel for the final on May 29, a decision made by the player himself according to Emery.
"It's bad news but we cannot do anything for this issue, it's a very personal decision and we need to respect him," said the Gunners boss.
"I don't understand the political problems now, but I must respect [his decision].
"I spoke this morning with Mkhitaryan and it's a personal decision. I respect him. He wants to play to help us by being with the team but they spoke, both him and his family, and decided not to go."
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Armenian nationals are denied visas to enter Azerbaijan due to hostilities between to neighbouring countries over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region.
Located in South-west Azerbaijan near the Armenian border, the area was subject to intense fighting - known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War - between 1988 and 1994, before a ceasefire was agreed.
Emery, who was born in the Basque town of Hondarribia, understands Mkhitaryan's decision, adding: "I come from the Basque Country and we had a big political problem that finished five or six years ago, and I can understand it is a very personal decision for his family and also thinking in their country.
"I cannot push him to come with us because I respect him.
"For me, it is very important if he is with us for the match to help with his quality and capacity, but this issue is not in my hands, but I respect his decision 100 per cent."
Mkhitaryan tweeted his disappointment at missing the final, saying: "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."