Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema is reportedly set to make a sensational return to the France national team set-up, according to multiple sources ahead of Didier Deschamps’ squad announcement later today.
The 33-year old has been in exile ever since French national team manager Didier Deschamps ostracised him from the national team setup for his alleged part in the sex-tape blackmail of former teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Le Parisien confirmed that Benzema will be in Deschamps’ 26-player squad for this summer’s European Championships. This comes after L’Equipe’s revelation that Deschamps was ‘strongly’ considering including the former Lyon player in the French squad.
BENZEMA BACK IN FRANCE SQUAD
Benzema has been in excellent form for Real Madrid throughout the season as Los Blancos enter the final match day of La Liga in contention for the league title. He has scored 22 goals for Los Merengues in 33 appearances in the league and a further six goals in the Champions League this season.
🔝⚽ ¡@Benzema iguala a @RaulGonzalez como 4️⃣º máximo goleador de la Copa de Europa!
🎯 71 dianas
🚩 110 partidos
🔥 16 temporadas consecutivas marcando
📈 4º madridista con más partidos en la Copa de Europa#RealFootball | #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/5ViImyTiPg
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) April 27, 2021
Meanwhile, France enter Euro 2020 as favourites to win the title. Les Bleus have been handed a tough draw as they have been drafted in Group F alongside Portugal, Germany and Hungary at the quadrennial tournament this summer.
DESCHAMPS HAD DROPPED BENZEMA IN 2015
Deschamps had initially dropped Benzema from the France squad as he was suspected of talking Valbuena into cooperating with blackmailers who threatened the current Olympiacos player with the release of an intimate video in which he featured.
It is believed that Benzema was approached by a childhood friend to act as a mediator and persuade Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Despite a court case against him off the field, Benzema has delivered a stellar performance for Los Blancos this season and has deservedly earned a call-up from Deschamps this summer.
Initially, the court case was scheduled for January and it was expected that his return to the France squad could hinge on the result of the proceedings. However, his trial has been delayed perhaps forcing Deschamps’ hand before Euro 2020.
BENZEMA GIVEN A NEW LEASE OF LIFE
Benzema was dropped by Deschamps for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. As such, it will be a sort of healing of old wounds when the Frenchman steps on the pitch for his country at Euro 2020. Olivier Giroud, who has been the starting striker for France in Benzema’s absence, has barely played for Chelsea this season. It can be assumed that Deschamps wants an in-form Benzema to lead the line given Giruod’s lack of playing time.
This summer he will be returning after an exile of more than half a decade – a period in which France became world champions in Russia in 2018, albeit without Benzema in their ranks. It will add another layer of quality to an already excellent French side.