Zinedine Zidane has backed Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to return to the French national squad as exile ‘hurts him’.
The 29-year-old – who has netted 17 times this season – has failed to feature for Les Bleus since October 2015 due to an investigation of extortion of fellow international forward Mathieu Valbuena.
"Not because I like him, not because we're close; because he shows he's the best, period," French legend Zidane told Canal+.
"It hurts him, because he wants to get back into the team.
"He's a player who can play, we know what a player he is, and he wants to get back into the France team. He loves the team. But you also have to accept the decision of a national team coach, a club coach, an entourage… [But] what he does is exceptional, I'm happy to have him with me."
Zidane helped France to a World Cup title and European Championships crown and is very highly regarded in the country.