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Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Arsenal and Armenia midfielder to miss Europa League final

Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action against Sporting CP
Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action against Sporting CP

Unai Emery respects the "personal" nature of Henrikh Mkhitaryan's decision not to play in the Europa League final but concedes it is "bad news" for his Arsenal side.

The Armenian's safety was a concern because of the dispute between his country and Azerbaijan, the host nation of next week's fixture between the Gunners and Chelsea.

Despite receiving assurances aimed at allaying those fears, Mkhitaryan has chosen not to travel to Baku following discussions with the club and his family.

"I discussed this with Mkhitaryan," said the Arsenal manager. "It's a very personal decision. He wants to play with the team, but he spoke with his family and decided not to go.

"It's bad news, but we cannot do anything about these issues. It's a very, very personal decision and we need to respect him. I don't understand the political problems, but I must respect (his decision).

"I spoke to him. I came from the Basque country, where we had a big political problem there, finishing five or six years ago. This is a very personal decision; I cannot push him to come with us.

"For him and for me, it's very important to (have his) help with his quality and his capacity, but these issues are out of my hands and I understand 100 per cent."

Mkhitaryan's absence, in addition to that of the injured Aaron Ramsey, who is departing for Juventus, increases Mesut Ozil's hopes of starting at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

Like Ramsey, Petr Cech will not be at Arsenal next season, having taken the decision to retire at the age of 37, but Emery hinted that despite losing his first-team place to Bernd Leno, the veteran goalkeeper is likely to start.

"Ozil has very big experience in Europe, playing with his national team, important games," he said. "We are preparing for every player to be ready for the final. He's working, he's trying, he's playing well and we need him.

"(Cech's) here because he deserves to be here. His commitment to Arsenal is big. He was playing the last (Europa League) matches, perfect matches, with big performances. I want to enjoy with him this final in his career.

"I'm a privileged coach to be with him. We're going to use all our effort to win and to be together and enjoy this final together.

"I trust and believe in him. I can use him, I can use Leno, but above all I want to enjoy this with the players, and (what is) a special moment for some players.

"I spoke with Aaron Ramsey, who's injured, but it's the same with Petr Cech. I want to be with him (for) his last match, playing or not."

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Most Read Football

Get all the football gossip from the National Papers1

Paper Talk: PSG Pogba swap?

PSG have approached Manchester United about the possibility of directly swapping Neymar for Paul Pogba according to one of Tuesday's UK newspapers.

A complete list of every completed summer 2019 transfer window deal2

Transfer Window: Done Deals

Get all the complete signings in the summer 2019 football transfer window from the Premier League, Sky Bet EFL and Europe.

Philippe Coutinho at the Nou Camp3

Coutinho unsure over Barca future

Philippe Coutinho remains in the dark as to his future with Barcelona.

Jose Mourinho4

Who next for Newcastle?

Newcastle are on the hunt for a new manager after the news of Rafa Benitez's departure. We take a look at the contenders.

The latest rumour and gossip from the back pages5

Paper Talk: Ole wants £63m man

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