Due to a thigh injury, Karim Benzema had to depart the French camp three days before the Qatar 2022 World Cup kickoff. Nevertheless, following the tournament, the player's agent said that his client would have been ready to return for the beginning of the Knockout Round. As a result, the prolific ace announced his retirement from international duty on December 19, the day after France's loss to Argentina.
Benzema was banned from the French national team for six years after being accused of blackmailing former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. He did not rejoin Les Blues until 2021. The reigning Ballon d'Or winner has been plagued by injuries this season, though.
The 35-year-old striker tried in vain to get back into playing shape for Real Madrid in the month leading up to the World Cup, but he was limited to only one substitute appearance. Despite starting 15 of Madrid's 25 La Liga games this season, he was sidelined for Saturday's match against Espanyol due to an ankle injury.
What did Didier Deschamps say of Karim Benzema's World Cup exclusion?
When being interviewed by Le Parisien on Friday, Didier Deschamps was asked whether a definitive judgment on Benzema's fitness had been made too quickly. "It’s an insult to us to say that. In every situation, there’s only one truth and Karim knows that. He joined up with us on 14 November, after a period of semi-inactivity at his club. He followed an individual training programme; his return to group training was postponed. As was also the case with Raphael [Varane], I was not only focused on having him back for the opening match against Australia.
"When Karim got injured, our doctor took him to the Aspetar clinic for a scan. Karim forwarded the results to someone in Madrid, who also gave him an opinion. When he got back to the hotel, it was already after midnight. I joined Karim in his room with our doctor, who had come to report back on the scan. Karim was upset, because this World Cup meant a lot to him.
"He said to me: ‘It’s dead’. Our doctor’s diagnosis matched the one he got from Madrid. In the best-case scenario, he wouldn’t return to training until 10 December [the day France faced England in the quarter-finals]. When I left him, I said to him: ‘Karim, there’s no rush. You sort out your return [from Qatar] with the team manager.’ When I woke up, I found out that he had left. It’s his decision, I understand and respect it".
How did Karim Benzema react to Didier Deschamps's interview?
Karim Benzema has now fired out at Didier Deschamps, calling the France coach a 'liar' and a 'clown' in response to the latter's assertions. The Ballon d'Or winner strongly disagreed with the comments and shared a screenshot of them on Instagram, captioning them 'but what audacity' with a clown emoji.
Furthermore, he uploaded a video of a well-known French influencer who repeatedly says 'liar, you are a liar' addressing Les Bleus' manager with the text 'That Didier. Goodnight'. The abruptness with which Benzema left Qatar fueled rumors of tension between him and the team and coach Deschamps.