In his wide-ranging interview with Le Parisien published this Saturday, France manager Didier Deschamps is notably asked about the events that led to Karim Benzema’s departure from the squad due to injury on the eve of the first game of the World Cup.
The Real Madrid forward’s fitness had been a source of controversy throughout Les Bleus’ campaign in Doha, with some close to the Ballon d’Or winner claiming that he would have been fit to play from the last 16 stage onwards. Benzema had missed a month of club action beforehand and was returning to training, but injured his thigh on his first full session with the French national team.
Following France’s loss in the final to Argentina, the former Lyon man effectively announced his international retirement. For Deschamps, who has extended his contract as France manager until the next World Cup, it was Benzema’s decision to leave the squad so soon after his diagnosis, which would have kept him out of action:
“In every situation, there is only one truth and Karim knows that. He joined us on November 14 after a period of semi-inactivity with his club. He followed an individual programme, and his return to full training was pushed back. I wasn’t planning on having him back to full fitness for the match against Australia, unlike for Raphaël [Varane]. When Karim injured himself, our team doctor went with him to the Aspetar clinic to undergo an MRI scan. Karim showed the results to someone who folllows him [medically] at Real Madrid, who also gave him an opinion. When he was back at the hotel, it was already past midnight. I went to see Karim in the room with the doctor, who gave me a summary of the scan.”
“[…] We stayed together about twenty minutes. As I was leaving I told him: Karim, there’s no rush, you can organise your return with the Team Manager. When I woke up, I found out he had left. That’s his decision, he won’t say otherwise, I understand and respect it.”
Benzema’s response to the claims, in an Instagram story, was a clear denial of that account: “What audacity“.
GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin