Sport 10:34 21/05/2019 World

Henrikh Mkhitaryan given Europa League safety assurances by Azerbaijan's UK ambassador

Azerbaijan's UK ambassador has told Sky Sports News that Henrikh Mkhitaryan can contact him directly to guarantee his safety in Baku for the Europa League final.

Concerns have been raised over the Armenian's status in the country for the final in Azerbaijan because of non-existent diplomatic relations between the two countries, which is due to disputes over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Arsenal have been in contact with UEFA, who have offered assistance in obtaining a visa for the 30-year-old which would enable him to travel in and out of the country.

The club have been contemplating whether to let him travel there at all ahead of the final at Baku's Olympic Stadium on May 29; Mkhitaryan was left out of Arsenal's squad which travelled to play Qarabag FK in a Europa League group game in October.

When asked by Sky Sports News if the Arsenal forward could contact him directly to guarantee safety assurances ahead of the final, Azerbaijan's ambassador to the UK, Tahir Taghizadeh, said: "Absolutely."

He added: "I would be delighted for him to have a conversation with me.

"This is a Class A event, if our purpose is to play political games around it it is something different, you are being paid as a footballer not a politician, lets leave other issues aside.

The Azerbaijan FA have also insisted that the Armenia captain's safety in the country is guaranteed ahead of the Europa League final.

On Mkhitaryan's status, Taghizadeh said: "His problem is that he has visited a military occupied portion of Azerbaijan which in doing so without permission from Azerbijani government.

"This entails consequences including blacklisted by the government. But he will be able to have security and safety guarantees.

"My message to Mkhitaryan would be: you're a footballer, you want to play football? Go to Baku you are safe there, if you want to play the issue then that's a different story.

"What I can guarantee is that the Azerbaijan government will do everything what needs to be done and provide safety and security for every fan, player and staff member coming to this game."

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