Benzema wants answer over France freeze-out

Kylian Mbappe has earned his first call-up, giving France more attacking options.
Kylian Mbappe has earned his first call-up, giving France more attacking options.

PARIS • Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has asked France coach Didier Deschamps for an explanation on why he was not selected for today's World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg.

Benzema had been indefinitely banned from the France team and missed Euro 2016 on home soil after being charged with conspiracy to blackmail in a sex tape scandal involving team-mate Mathieu Valbuena. But the ban was lifted last September.

However, he has been left frustrated after not being picked for the trip to Luxembourg and next week's friendly against Spain.

"I find it unfair because I did not have any explanation. I am a man and I'd like an explanation on why I haven't been called up," he told French radio RMC on Thursday.

"What I would like is to have a conversation with the coach, so that he can tell me what he thinks, I have to know."

Benzema, who won the last of 81 caps in October 2015, is hopeful he can still earn some more. "I have not ended my international career, I don't want to give up," he said.

"It is tough (to be omitted) when you play in a big club. I love football, the big games. The national team gives you top-class matches."

Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann is now the undisputed first-choice forward for France, who have many attacking options.

Now, wunderkind Kylian Mbappe looks to be the next great talent of French football and his performances for Monaco have earned him his first call-up to the national team.

"The fact that it is his first time with the national team does not mean he cannot start," said Deschamps of the 18-year-old.

Mbappe has scored 19 times this season and Griezmann jokingly suggested that he himself may not be a starter for long.

He took to Instagram to upload a picture of himself alongside Mbappe and Dimitri Payet and wrote in French: "Yeah Dimi! It's him who's going to put us on the bench!"

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Benzema wants answer over France freeze-out'. Print Edition | Subscribe