Deschamps refuses to fan flames of Benzema row as France boss ignores Real Madrid star's accusations

By Sports Desk March 19, 2023

Didier Deschamps wants to put a lid on the public spat with Karim Benzema that has rumbled on since the World Cup.

France head coach Deschamps lost Benzema from his Qatar 2022 squad on the eve of the tournament when the Ballon d'Or winner and Real Madrid captain suffered a thigh injury.

According to Deschamps, Benzema said he would not be able to return to the France camp to take part in the latter stages of the tournament.

As it turned out, Benzema was back in training with Madrid in early December, and that led to speculation he might make a dramatic return for Les Bleus, as they chased a successful trophy defence.

That did not happen, with Benzema absent as France lost on penalties to Argentina in the final on December 18.

Deschamps told Le Parisien this month that he had spoken with Benzema after the striker had an MRI scan after his injury blow, and the then 34-year-old declared his World Cup hopes to be over.

According to Deschamps, the coach told Benzema there was no need to rush his departure, but the next day he made an early exit.

"When I wake up, I learn that he is gone," Deschamps said in the newspaper interview. "It's his decision, he won't tell you otherwise, I understand and respect it."

Benzema, who announced his international retirement on the day after the World Cup final, also his 35th birthday, swiftly attempted to counter Deschamps' version of events.

He responded in a series of posts on his Instagram stories, posting a clown emoji alongside the comment: "What audacity."

In another message, he posted "Sacred Didier" alongside a video of a well-known French social media figure repeatedly accusing someone of being a "liar".

Speaking on TF1 show Telefoot on Sunday, Deschamps refused to nudge the saga along.

Deschamps said: "I am not in the controversy. I needed to speak to say what had happened. But that is a thing of the past for me."

Benzema was set to be involved for Real Madrid against Barcelona in Sunday's LaLiga Clasico at Camp Nou, and he will then have a break while internationals take place over the coming fortnight.

It was claimed by RMC Sport on Sunday that Benzema will play no part when France mark a number of international retirements on Friday, when Les Blues host the Netherlands in a Euro 2024 qualifier.

Those whose careers for Les Bleus are expected to be celebrated include Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane and Steve Mandanda.

Meanwhile, France have lost two players for the Netherlands game and a trip to face the Republic of Ireland on the following Monday, with Arsenal's William Saliba and Chelsea's Wesley Fofana pulling out of the squad due to injury.

Monaco's Axel Disasi and Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo have been called up as replacements.

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