Karim Benzema has responded to Didier Deschamps’ claim that the striker told him “he wouldn’t have been ready” to play at the World Cup because of an injury by implying the France coach was a “liar”.
The Real Madrid forward pulled out of the France squad with an injured left thigh on the eve of the tournament and departed their team hotel in Qatar soon afterwards.
Benzema returned to training with his club on December 10, four days before France played Morocco in the World Cup semifinals.
“Karim told me himself that he wouldn’t have been ready,” Deschamps told the Parisien newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
“When Karim got injured, our doctor accompanied him to the Aspetar clinic to undergo an MRI,” said Deschamps.
“Karim passed on the results to someone who follows him in Madrid and who also gave him an opinion. When he came back to the hotel, it was already gone midnight.
“I met Karim in his room with our doctor who had come to give me the report from the scan… Karim was hurt because this World Cup meant a lot to him. He told me, ‘It’s over.’
“We stayed together for about 20 minutes,” added Deschamps.
“When leaving I told him, ‘Karim, there’s no rush. Organise your return with the team manager.’ When I woke up I found out he was gone. It’s his decision, he won’t tell you otherwise, I understand and respect it.”
Benzema, who announced his international retirement the day after France lost the World Cup final on penalties to Argentina, appeared to dispute Deschamps’ version of events on social media.
The Ballon d’Or winner posted on Instagram a screenshot of Deschamps’ remarks accompanied by the phrase “but what audacity” and a clown emoji.
He also shared the video of a popular French influencer, who repeats the words “liar, you are a liar”, while again addressing Deschamps.
Benzema’s hasty departure from Qatar had fuelled speculation of a rift between him and the rest of the squad as well as Deschamps.
The injury was just the latest chapter in Benzema’s complicated and turbulent history with Les Bleus, which saw him frozen out of the team for five and a half years because of his involvement in a blackmail scandal over a sextape involving his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
He also had numerous run-ins with Deschamps over the years with the player, who is of Algerian descent, at one stage hinting the France coach was being “racist” in keeping him out.
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