​Bernd Leno has called the situation which has led to Henrikh Mkhitaryan's withdrawal from Arsenal's Europa League final squad a 'scandal', with the Armenian midfielder feeling unable to play safely in Azerbaijan due to long-standing tensions between the two nations. 

The selection of Baku as the location for the final has been criticised by both sets of fans due to travel difficulties, and Mkhitaryan's inability to play in a European final for political reasons has been widely condemned. 

Leno told ​Kicker"It's a scandal that he can not play because of that. He works hard all season and can not come to such a final for political reasons. If a player can not compete for political reasons, then that is not right."

"His decision is completely understandable, I'm just sorry for him, and it makes me sad."

On the decision to hand the hosting of the final to Baku, a city singularly ill-equipped to deal with fans from two English clubs, he added: "Such decisions are anything but happy and in the end, the fans, the mood in the stadium and ​Mkhi – we are all suffering. This is not a good sign for football."

The German stopper ruled out a last-minute boycott of the match though, explaining: "You could do that, but it would hurt the club. The club want the title, they want to go to the ​Champions League. If ​Arsenal and ​Chelsea refuse, they would probably be excluded from UEFA, which is not so easy to deal with."


The ​Europa League final kicks off at 8pm UK time on Wednesday evening.