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French football boss Deschamps refuses to be drawn on exiled Benzema

Luxembourg (AFP) – A day after Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema demanded talks with the France coach over his ongoing international exile, Didier Deschamps flatly refused to discuss the matter.

“I have nothing to say about this now, simply because right now we’re focussed on Saturday’s game (against Luxembourg) and Tuesday’s game (against Spain),” Deschamps said when asked at a press conference if he had something to say to Benzema, who won 81 caps before his exile.

“My priority is the 24 players I have here and their schedule,” said Deschamps, whose France squad is endowed with an embarrassment of riches in striking talent.

The 29-year-old Benzema has not been picked by Deschamps since October 2015 after being embroiled in a sex-tape blackmail scandal which is likely to go to court later this year and which involves Benzema’s former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

The scandal cost the unrepentant forward a place in France’s Euro 2016 squad, and with the 2018 World Cup swinging into view Benzema wants a recall, while he continues to insist upon his innocence.

Benzema said he last spoke to Deschamps towards the end of last season.

“He told me he wouldn’t pick me. At the time I didn’t need any more explanation than that,” Benzema told RMC radio station on Thursday.

“Now, on reflection, I’d like him to explain why it’s still the case — I ask myself that every day.”

Investigators suspect Benzema of acting as an intermediary between the presumed blackmailers, including one of his childhood friends, and Lyon midfielder Valbuena.

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