Henrikh Mkhitaryan will reportedly miss Arsenal’s Europa League group stage tie against Azerbaijani outfit Qarabag on Thursday evening due to significant political unrest in Eurasia.
An Armenian citizen, Mkhitaryan will be denied access to Azerbaijan as tensions between the two neighbouring nations are still apparent across the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which was war-torn before a ceasefire was announced in 1994.
The Gunners could have filed to activate an international clearance order which would have enabled the playmaker to travel to Azerbaijan, although it’s said that the north-Londoners subsequently opted to discard that particular measure, meaning that the 29-year-old will ultimately remain on English soil.
The relevant clearance process would require ‘Miki’ to contact the Azerbaijani for a permit to travel to Baku – where Qarabag are based – although the club’s hierarchy are evidently reluctant to pursue what could be a particularly arduous procedure.
Being one of Armenia’s most prominent public figures, it’s perceived as a wise decision to leave Mkhitaryan at home as his presence in Azerbaijan could indeed spark detrimental controversy, if there’s an exceedingly agitated atmosphere on the night, of course.
Incidentally, if Arsenal are to progress to the Europa League final next year, Mkhitaryan would face the same impending problems as the occasion will take place in Azerbaijan’s Olympic Stadium.