Daily Briefing

The Decathlon: Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan will miss Europa League final over safety fears

Ten things from the world of sport on Tuesday 21 May

1. Mkhitaryan won’t travel to Baku

Arsenal have confirmed that midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel with the squad to Baku and will miss the Uefa Europa League final against Chelsea on 29 May.

There are fears for Mkhitaryan’s safety in Azerbaijan because of his Armenian heritage.  

Arsenal said in a statement: “We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party. We have written to Uefa expressing our deep concerns about this situation.

“Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective. We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.”

2. Clarke takes over Scotland

Scotland have appointed Steve Clarke as their new head coach on a three-year deal. Clarke replaces Alex McLeish after leading Kilmarnock to a third-place finish in the Scottish Premiership.

The 55-year-old said: “It is an honour to be appointed Scotland national head coach and I will undertake those responsibilities with pride and commitment. I firmly believe we have a talented group of players who can achieve success on the international stage. I look forward to working with them and helping them to fulfil those ambitions.” 

3. F1 mourns legend Lauda

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has led the tributes to Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda, who passed away on Monday at the age of 70. Lauda won three world titles and made a miraculous comeback after suffering severe burns at the 1976 German Grand Prix. Wolff said: “His passing leaves a void in Formula 1. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula 1.” See the tributes and reactions here.

4. Archer named in England World Cup squad

The England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed the 15-man squad that will attempt to win the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup on home soil. Three changes to the preliminary line-up sees the inclusion of Jofra Archer, Liam Dawson and James Vince. Joe Denly and David Willey miss out on selection. 

5. Murray: I hope to play singles again

British tennis star Andy Murray has told The Times that he is confident of making a full return after hip surgery, but it initially may only be playing doubles. Murray “hopes to play singles again” but a return at Wimbledon this year looks unlikely at this stage. 

6. Five finals in a row for Golden State

The Golden State Warriors swept the Portland Trail Blazers 4-0 to reach the NBA Finals for the fifth successive year. Golden State will take on the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors for the championship.

7. Blues set to sell Hazard

The Daily Mail reports that Chelsea “are prepared” to sell Eden Hazard to Real Madrid this summer over fears that if he leaves on a free transfer next year it would have “repercussions” because of Financial Fair Play rules. See the latest Premier League transfer news here

8. Parris signs for Lyon

England star Nikita Parris has agreed a transfer to French club Lyon, the reigning Uefa Women’s Champions League holders. Parris, who leaves Manchester City on a free transfer, will play for the England Lionesses at this summer’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in France. 

9. Joshua: don’t underestimate Ruiz Jr

British boxing star Anthony Joshua says his next opponent Andy Ruiz Jr should not be underestimated in the 1 June title fight in New York. Heavyweight champion Joshua said: “It’s not about what you look like - it’s a craft, a skill. What’s in your heart and head matters in the end. Andy has shown he has all that, he can fight and box, that’s what matters. I think Andy is a great challenger and will bring it on 1 June.”

10. ‘Sarrivederci’ for Chelsea manager Maurizio?

Maurizio Sarri’s future is the main focus of The Sun’s back page today - could it be “Sarrivederci” for the Chelsea manager? According to the paper the Italian wants a quick decision from Chelsea because Serie A champions Juventus are ready to pounce. Juve are set to part company with Massimiliano Allegri and Sarri is claimed to be their No.1 choice to take the reigns in Turin.

See today’s back pages

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