Arsene Wenger’s mind was left boggled by the circumstances which have led to Henrikh Mkhitaryan being unable to play for Arsenal in their Europa League final against Chelsea.
Mkhitaryan, the Armenia captain, will not travel to Baku due to fears over his safety in Azerbaijan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have a century-long political conflict dating back to the fall of the Soviet Empire in 2017, and despite UEFA’s assurances, the player decided not to take the risk.
And former Gunners boss Wenger, who brought Mkhitaryan to Arsenal, struggles to understand how such an issue could occur in 2019.
When asked by talkSPORT how the situation makes him feel, he replied: “Very uncomfortable.
“You would not think in 2019 a club will miss a player for political reason in Europe, you know?
“It’s different to understand.”
UEFA’s decision to host the final in Baku has been heavily scrutinised following the Mkhitaryan saga.
Fans are also refusing to make the trip due to expensive and gruelling logistics.
Neither Chelsea nor Arsenal will sell anywhere near their 6,000 allocation in the 67,000-seater stadium – and Wenger will not be attending either.
“How will I watch it? On television,” he added.
“I will not be in Baku because I have commitments that I accepted and I will have to respect that.
“So I will watch it on television and I will be in Madrid for the big final.”
Nonetheless, Wenger remains a die-hard Arsenal fan.
It’s a year since he called time on his 22-year reign in north London – and his next move still remains unclear.
LIVE ON talkSPORT
talkSPORT is your home of live football! Here’s what’s coming up on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2…
- England Women vs Denmark Women (Saturday, 1pm) – talkSPORT
- Newport County vs Tranmere (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT
- Charlton vs Sunderland (Sunday, 3pm) – talkSPORT
He promises us we’ll see him return to football soon, but hints that it might not be in a managerial role.
“I am a competitor first, I live for competition and I will be back in football soon,” Wenger added.
“That’s a promise.
“In what way, I don’t know, but I will be back.”