Henrikh Mkhitaryan misses Borussia Dortmund trip to Azerbaijan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not travelled on Borussia Dortmund's Europa League trip to Azerbaijan because of security concerns, the club have confirmed.
Dortmund face Azerbaijani club Gabala on Thursday, but have left the Armenian midfielder in Germany because of an ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The region, along with some adjacent territory, has been under the control of Armenian soldiers and local ethnic Armenian forces since a 1994 ceasefire ended a six-year war.
Violence has nevertheless broken out sporadically since.
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"It's a conflict situation between two countries. This can happen. We have taken the decision together. Had it been the semifinal, we would have maybe decided differently," Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told reporters on Wednesday.
"We've talked to the player again, and it's the best decision for all involved. There's a bit of discomfort. Henrikh's not upset to stay behind."
Mkhitaryan, a five-time Armenian footballer of the year, staying behind in Dortmund was an outcome that had appeared increasingly likely in recent days.He has visited the disputed region several times, and while Azerbaijan's embassy to Germany told ESPN FC he would be granted a visa upon arrival at Baku, Dortmund opted to leave him behind.
While Dortmund stars such as Marco Reus, Mats Hummels, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ilkay Gundogan all made the trip, defender Neven Subotic was not on the flight.
The 26-year-old Serb has fallen down the pecking order under new BVB boss Thomas Tuchel, and there have been reports in Germany that he could be reunited with his old coach Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.