Karim Benzema ‘set to be handed a sensational France return TODAY’ after six years in international wilderness following alleged sex-tape blackmail of ex-team-mate Mathieu Valbuena – and saying boss Didier Deschamps had ‘bowed to racists’ by dropping him
Karim Benzema is set to make a sensational return to the France national team for this summer’s European Championship.
The Real Madrid striker has been exiled by manager Didier Deschamps since 2015 after his alleged role in the sex-tape blackmail of former team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
Le Parisien report that Benzema is likely to be included in the 26-man squad list on Tuesday evening following L’Equipe’s revelation that he was being strongly considered by the coach.
Karim Benzema could return to the France squad after six years in exile from the team
Benzema is suspected of having pressured former France national team-mate Valbuena (left) to pay blackmailers who threatened to reveal an intimate video in which Valbuena featured
Les Bleus enter the tournament among the favourites and Benzema, 33, has been one of Real’s standout players this season.
It would mark a surprising U-turn from Deschamps in the wake of the scandal that saw him drop the forward six years ago.
Benzema is suspected of encouraging Valbuena to co-operate with blackmailers, who threatened to release an intimate video in which he featured.
L’Equipe report that Benzema is being considered for a sensational return by Deschamps
Deschamps (left) takes his squad to the European Championship as one of the favourites
Investigators who charged Benzema believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police.
When the story broke, Benzema faced a deluge of criticism and then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the former Lyon player had ‘no place’ in the national team. He has been unable to repair relations and return for his country.
It is understood that Benzema will go on trial from Wednesday, October 20 to Friday, October 22 this year. He denies any wrongdoing and four other people will also stand trial in the case.
Benzema leaves a court house in Versailles in November 2015 when the scandal emerged
Originally, it was reported that Benzema would face trial in January. At the time, he posted a screenshot of a story by L’Equipe about the update and asked his 36.9million Instagram followers when will the ‘farce’ come to an end.
Reacting to news of the trial, Benzema’s lawyer Sylvian Cormier described the decision as ‘absurd’.
Despite the case hanging over him, the veteran striker has produced one of his best campaigns with 29 goals in all competitions so far and now looks likely to be rewarded with a call-up for Les Bleus.
It would also be a surprise healing of old wounds as when Benzema was left out of France’s Euro 2016 squad, he accused Deschamps of ‘bowing to racists’.
‘He [Deschamps] has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France,’ he said at the time.
‘He has to know that in France the extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections.
The striker’s alleged involvement has cost him his place in the France national team since 2015 – Benzema pictured celebrating scoring a goal for his country back in 2013
‘I do not know, therefore, whether it is a decision only for Didier because I’ve gotten along with him, with the president, everyone. I do not have a problem with anyone. I am with France and wish them well.’
And Eric Cantona even went as far as suggesting Benzema’s African heritage worked against him, telling the Guardian: ‘Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.
‘So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after [Manuel] Valls [the French prime minister] said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.’