Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is currently swimming in a sea of unknown before the Europa League final.
The Gunners beat Valencia in the semi-finals quite comfortably and now they will take on London rivals Chelsea in the final at Azerbaijan.
A lot is riding on this match for Unai Emery since a win in the final would help them gain direct entry into the Champions League next season.
But as things stand, Henrikh Mkhitaryan might not be a part of this high-intensity game.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is an Armenian international and given the final will be played in Azerbaijan, it was more or less certain that the midfielder would not make the trip to Baku – given the tensions between the two countries.
The Armenian also missed a group stage game in Azerbaijan for a similar reason but given that this is the final we are talking about, the Azerbaijan FA had given assurances that Henrikh Mkhitaryan could play vs Chelsea later this month.
A couple of days ago, UEFA put out a statement in which they said that they had received assurances from Azerbaijan’s soccer governing body.
“Assurances were sought on this matter by UEFA and Arsenal FC, with the Azerbaijan Football Association confirming that there would be no problem for the player in question to enter and stay in Azerbaijan and that all necessary security measures would be in place,” UEFA had said(as reported).
Now though, even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has come out to say that Henrikh Mkhitaryan should not have any problem playing at the Baku Olympic Stadium.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva said: “Many major sports events have been hosted in Azerbaijan, and Armenian athletes have taken part in them,
“Sports and politics are separate.”
After all these assurances it looked like the midfielder would finally be a part of the Europa League final matchday squad vs Chelsea.
But that does not seem to be the case.
Bookmakers are more or less certain that Arsenal will not try and risk any political scenario and will keep Henrikh Mkhitaryan back in London when they travel to Baku for the Europa League final.
If this happens then it will be a huge boost for Chelsea given the player has been in pretty decent form for Arsenal this season and his absence would give Maurizio Sarri one less thing to worry about.