Paris (AFP) – Didier Deschamps tried on Wednesday to play down the shock return of Karim Benzema to the France squad as his team begins its preparations for Euro 2020, classing it as a “non-event”.
Real Madrid forward Benzema’s near six-year exile from the national team over his alleged role in a blackmail plot came to an end last week when he was recalled by Deschamps for this summer’s delayed European Championship.
He joined the squad at France’s Clairefontaine training centre on Wednesday and is set to form a potent-looking attack with World Cup-winners Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
“It’s a non-event,” insisted Deschamps. “That it interests people on the outside, OK, but for me he is happy to be here, it’s been a long time, he’s refound his footing with the other 21 players.
“He is coming into a group that knows each other, but he has earned his place same as the other players.”
On Tuesday Benzema told sports daily L’Equipe that he wanted to win a trophy with France now that he is back in the fold for the first time since 2015.
He missed out on their 2018 World Cup win and their run to the Euro 2016 final on home soil.
Benzema has 27 goals in 81 international appearances and was last week named as this season’s best French foreign-based player by the country’s players’ association.
He scored 29 goals this term for Real Madrid, passing 20 league goals in all three seasons since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.
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