Didier Deschamps has admitted that Karim Benzema was never out of the selection race as far as the French National team has been concerned. The 33-year-old has been fine form for Real Madrid registering 29 goals and eight assists in 45 appearances for Real Madrid across all competitions.
While Karim Benzema has been fit enough to earn a France call up and even play for Les Blues’ since 2015, the Real Madrid striker has struggled to make the cut. That is because he has been under investigation for his alleged involvement in a blackmail plot involving former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena. It has seen the 33-year-old miss out on the Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018, while he also played no part in his nation’s qualifying campaign for Euro 2020.
However, Benzema has earned a surprise call-up for France’s Euro 2020 campaign this summer with the decision shocking many. Especially since several reports suggested that Benzema had been left out of the France team owing to a potential ego clash between him and Deschamps, but the France head coach has denied any such allegation. Instead, the 2018 World Cup winner highlighted that all his decisions were based on the welfare of the national team and they still remain one of the favourites to lift the trophy at Wembley in July.
“My job is not to surprise people. That people are surprised by my choices has always been the case. Compared to Karim, the important step is seeing each other and being able to discuss together. I took the time to reflect, to analyze what we said to each other. I will not go into the content of our discussion that took place a little while ago, to come to the decision today to select it. I never said that Karim Benzema was not selectable, he always has been," Deschamps told France’s official website.
“You might ask me why now and not before? I'm not a magician and neither is he. It's happening today, it's factual. I felt the need to see him and him too. The important thing is that we saw each other. Group life? You have the answer to the choice I made, otherwise I would have made another choice.”
Deschamps further highlights the selection headaches he had to face owing to the plenty of attacking options that France has in its ranks. He also talks about the current problems Oliver Giroud is facing as a result of inconsistent game time and assured fans that pairing Benzema with Giroud would be a viable option that could guarantee unprecedented success for French national team.
“It could have happened before, it didn't happen. It's happening now. Timing or not. If I had had to make this list a year ago when the Euro should have taken place in 2020, it would not have been the same and not only for Karim Benzema. My choices are guided by the good of the French team; Competition exists, it has always existed. I am not blind and deaf. I know that Olivier Giroud was held responsible for the absence of Karim Benzema.
"However, they played together for several years in the French team, one did not prevent the other from being present. To say that Olivier has been in a difficult situation with his club since February is reality. "I have already had players in difficulty in their clubs, they are impacted mentally, athletically and by the lack of benchmarks on the field. I won't complain about being spoiled for choice. Today, there are a lot of offensive players because I like them and I know that is where we can make the difference.
"I will not be able to put more than necessary but it will be necessary to find balances. In the choices that I made, there are associations, profiles, the versatility of some which can cover several positions. I give you several elements that tipped the scales. I'm not going to complain about having such great attacking potential," he added.