Arsenal will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan when they contest the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku next Wednesday.
The club announced on Monday that after exploring all possible options, the Armenian is unable to travel to the Azerbaijan capital due to concerns over his safety.
Political tension between the two nations over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region are thought to pose too great a risk to Mkhitaryan and his family.
The 30-year-old gathered his teammates into a huddle before Tuesday’s training session to break the news.
Mkhitaryan has contributed three assists in the Europa League and will be a significant - yet wholly unnecessary - loss for the Gunners, according to Vinai Venkatesham.
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“I struggle to find the words about how strongly I feel,” the club’s managing director said, per the Guardian.
“We have a situation that is completely unacceptable.
“It is not our decision or Henrikh’s, but one we made together. We don’t feel he can travel to a major European final and that’s extraordinarily sad.
“He has had that opportunity taken away from him, one that is a rare opportunity for any player.
“We’re losing the opportunity of having him to help us win a major trophy. It’s an extraordinary shame.”
However, despite Arsenal completely supporting Mkhitaryan in pulling out of the finale, they have no intention of keeping him beyond the summer.
That’s per a report from The Sun, who claim there’s a “general acceptance” at the Emirates that the midfielder will never reach the peak of his powers in the Premier League.
Signed in January last season, Mkhitaryan has been less than impressive for the Londoners, scoring just nine goals in 53 matches since he ended an equally disappointing 18-month spell at Manchester United.
The last time he found the back of the net for his club was during February’s 5-1 victory over Bournemouth, which also saw him register the two most recent of his four league assists.
With only six goals to speak of this term, it’s no wonder Arsenal are resigned to never seeing Mkhitaryan reach the heights he did at Borussia Dortmund.
The Armenia international was devastating in his final Bundesliga campaign with 23 goals in all competitions alongside a league-high 15 assists.
It was always going to be a hard act to follow, especially in a new country.
But, unfortunately for Mkhitaryan, his time at Arsenal appears to be on the verge of the same fate he suffered at Old Trafford.News Now - Sport News