Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is included in the France squad for the European Championship in a surprise move from coach Didier Deschamps after the pair resolve their differences.
Benzema, who has scored 29 goals in all competitions for Real this season, has not played for the Blues since 2015 after a blackmail scandal for which he faces trial in October.
He also said in 2016 that Deschamps “bowed to pressure from a racist part of France” by letting the forward out of the European squad that year.
Benzema, 33, who has 27 goals in 81 games for France, is part of the 26-man squad alongside forwards Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud, Ousmane Dembele, Wissam Ben Yedder and Marcus Thuram .
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial was not in the squad, Deschamps said as he was not physically ready. The forward suffered a knee problem during a World Cup qualifier with Kazakhstan in March and has just returned to training with his club.
While Deschamps had not chosen Benzema since October 2015 and said he would “never” forget his words, the France coach had never declared that he would not recall him again.
“I don’t have the capacity, nobody does, to go back and change anything. The most important thing is today and tomorrow. There have been some important steps, one of which is very important, ”Deschamps said of Benzema.
The striker was recently named best French player in a foreign league by the union of French professional footballers.
“We saw each other. We had a long discussion,” added Deschamps. “After that, I had a long thought to come to this decision. I won’t reveal a word of the discussion, this is only our business. I needed it, he needed it.
“I have already been confronted with difficult situations, I have always put my personal case aside. The France team does not belong to me, even if I am well aware that the responsibility I have is important because of the choices I have to make. “
Benzema wrote on Twitter: “So proud of my return to the France team and the confidence placed in me. Thank you to my family, my friends, my club, to you … and to everyone who has always supported me. and gave me strength every day. “
Giroud is likely to make way for Benzema in the starting lineup, having had limited playing time at Chelsea.
The two players disagreed, with Benzema saying on Instagram last year: “You can’t compare karting and Formula 1, and I’m nice.”
Deschamps created another surprise by choosing Sevilla defender Jules Kounde.
France team for Euro 2021
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mike Maignan (Milan)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Léo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris), Jules Koundé (Seville), Clément Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Midfielder: N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea), Thomas Lemar (Atlético Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern)
Before: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern), Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappé (Paris), Marcus Thuram (Mönchengladbach)
Read more: Euro 2021 teams, player lists and rankings from 24 countries
Calendar of Euro 2021 of France
- France vs Germany – Tuesday June 14, 8 p.m. (Munich)
- Hungary vs France – Saturday June 19, 2 p.m. (Budapest)
- Portugal vs France – Wednesday June 23, 8 p.m. (Budapest)
Latest classification of group F