Europa League: Arsene Wenger says Henrikh Mkhitaryan's absence in final for Arsenal should not happen in football

Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel with the team after the Armenian national decided to skip the final amid concerns over his safety due to political tensions between Azerbaijan and his native country.

Reuters May 24, 2019 14:22:58 IST
Europa League: Arsene Wenger says Henrikh Mkhitaryan's absence in final for Arsenal should not happen in football
  • Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also said he wants to return to football

  • However, Wenger said he is not sure if he should take up another role as manager

  • Wenger left Arsenal at the end of the 2017-18 season after 22 years in charge of the club

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants to return to football soon but says he is at a crossroads and is not sure if he should take up another role as manager.

Wenger left Arsenal at the end of the 2017-18 season after 22 years in charge of the London club where he won three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups.

Europa League Arsene Wenger says Henrikh Mkhitaryans absence in final for Arsenal should not happen in football

File image of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Reuters

The 69-year-old has kept himself busy as a television pundit and conference speaker since leaving the Gunners and said in October that he had received offers to return to football from all over the world.

“You will see me again in football. As a manager... I don’t know,” Wenger told reporters on Thursday. “I thought I would come back into management very quickly but I enjoyed taking a little distance. Now I’m at a crossroads.

“Football is still my passion. I’ll come back soon, but I cannot tell you exactly in what capacity.”

The Frenchman also described the nearly 6,000-mile round trip fans would have to make from London to Baku for next week’s Europa League final as a “nightmare”.

Arsenal face London rivals Chelsea in the Azerbaijan capital on Wednesday with victory guaranteeing Wenger’s former club a spot in the Champions League, but European soccer governing body UEFA has been roundly criticised for its choice of venue.

“It’s a little bit of a nightmare (for supporters),” Wenger said. “The teams have no problem. They live in ideal conditions, they have their private jets.”

Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel with the team after the Armenian national decided to skip the final amid concerns over his safety due to political tensions between Azerbaijan and his native country.

“(Mkhitaryan’s situation) is something that should not happen in football,” Wenger added. “I feel it’s not normal that in 2019 — inside Europe with very sophisticated democracies — that you cannot play for political reasons.”

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