Unai Emery is hoping Henrikh Mkhitaryan will travel to Azerbaijan for an upcoming Europa League game despite the country’s ongoing conflict with the midfielder’s native Armenia.
The recent draw paired Arsenal with Azerbaijani champions Qarabag and the Gunners will travel to Baku on Oct. 4 in the second round of group-stage matches.
However, Mkhitaryan’s availability for the game is in doubt because of the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
In 2015, when Mkhitaryan played for Borussia Dortmund, the captain of the Armenian national team stayed home for a Europa League tie against Gabala because of security concerns. He would also need an exception from the Azerbaijani government to get a visa, as Armenians are banned from entering the country.
But Emery, speaking shortly after the draw was announced, said he doesn’t want to leave Mkhitaryan at home for the game.
“I would like that he can [travel] with us,” Emery said. “And this problem, if we can together arrange [a solution], it’s better. But I have not yet spoken with him.”
Three years ago, Azerbaijan’s embassy to Germany said that Mkhitaryan would be granted a visa upon arrival at Baku, but he did not make the trip. UEFA said on Friday that it would try to ensure that Mkhitaryan gets a visa for the October game.
“It is a standard procedure for UEFA to send letters of support to associations, clubs or embassies in order to obtain visa for players in order to be able to travel to another country and play in UEFA competition matches,” the governing body said in a statement regarding Mkhitaryan’s situation.
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