Door open for Real Madrid striker Benzema to return to French national team duty

February 27 – The French FA president Noel Le Graet has opened the door for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema’s return to the French national team.

Benzema has not played for Les Bleus since his embroilment in a sex tape scandal with fellow international and Olympique Lyon player Mathieu Valbuena. The scandal caused upheaval in France and Benzema was subsequently banned from the French squad for Euro 2016.

On home soil Les Bleus reached the final of the European Championship, but lost to an extra-time strike from Portugal’s Eder. France boasted plenty of attacking talent with poster boy Antoine Griezmann, rising star Dimitri Payet and Arsenal striker Oliver Giroud.

Ever since Benzema has been out of the picture, with French coach Didier Deschamps also considering Kevin Gameiro, Griezmann’s partner at Atletico Madrid.

The president of the French FA (FFF) has, however, indicated that Benzema is still welcome at the French national team. “He’s up for selection, he’s not suspended,” said Le Graet. “If Didier [Deschamps] wants to pick him, he can do when he wants [it]. He has total control. There’s no problem with Benzema; if he continues to play well, one day he will return.”

“I’ve got enormous respect for the guy on a sporting level, he’s the greatest French scorer in European football, and he’s a starter with Real Madrid, which itself isn’t easy,” continued Le Graet. “The quality of the player is not up for debate.”

The 29-year old has 81 caps for France, joint 15th most in history. Benzema has netted 27 goals for his national team. This weekend the striker featured in his 31st game for Real Madrid this season. Zinedine Zidane’s Real won 2-3 at Villareal to regain top spot in La Liga.

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