Karim Benzema’s France career is over after he retired seven days ago, having never quite enjoyed the glorious return he had imagined. Details continue to emerge of the reasons behind that.
After a six-year absence from Les Bleus for assisting in the blackmail of former teammate Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema returned in 2021, but France were knocked out of the Euros by Switzerland on penalties.
Following a muscle injury, Benzema was then sent home from the France camp just days before the World Cup began. The 35-year-old then retired the day after the World Cup ended. The version of events coming out was that manager Didier Deschamps, frustrated with what he saw as clear dishonesty from Benzema on the state of his injury, decided it was not worth keeping him around.
Now French journalist Romain Molina has revealed (via AS) that there elements within the squad that did not appreciate Benzema’s presence. Although Paul Pogba also missed the tournament through injury, he, Olivier Giroud, Hugo Lloris and Antoine Griezmann expressed doubts about Benzema’s impact on the squad. It has been noted that Benzema stopped following much of the France squad on Instagram too, keeping just five of the team (including the likes of Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga and Raphael Varane) on his social media.
Feeling that too much emphasis would be placed on Benzema, there was tension between Griezmann and the Real Madrid striker. Molina also explained that the Atletico Madrid striker was even concerned about how little he was appearing on social media compared to Benzema, out of which there was nearly an executive meeting with the French Football Federation to address it.
After stories such as these, it highlights just how delicate the balance of a dressing can be. Deschamps has often been criticised for his management of Les Bleus, with many pointing to his conservatism on the pitch. One of the reasons, apart from the very obvious success, that the FFF have kept with Deschamps may be his strong character – a necessity when dealing with so many other strong personalities.