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Mathieu Valbuena Opens Up About Karim Benzema's Return to France Squad Following Blackmail Scandal

Karim Benzema returns to the France squad after six years
Karim Benzema returns to the France squad after six years / FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Former France international Mathieu Valbuena has insisted he harbours no ill will towards national team coach Didier Deschamps for recalling Karim Benzema to the international squad for the upcoming Euro 2020.

Real Madrid striker Benzema was recalled to the France squad for the first time in six years after being dropped due to serious allegations regarding him and Valbuena. The 33-year-old denied allegations that he pressurised Valbuena to pay the alleged blackmailers, who were said to be threatening to release a video featuring the former Marseille and Lyon player.

"If [Benzema] can bring more to the France team, so that's good for him. It will be on the field that it will be played," Valbuena said when asked about Benzema's inclusion.

"It is the coach's choice. For me, Didier will be a winner in all cases. If the France team works, we will say that he was able to adapt and if it fails we will not blame him.

"He knows how to make his lists. He's very smart about that. Did he call me to let me know about his decision with Benzema? No, I don't expect anything from Didier, nothing from anyone. Today, I make my life and I have fun in the field. I have no further comments to make."

Valbuena himself saw his international career come to an end in the aftermath of the scandal, and admitted he was upset with the way his France exit was handled. “In 2016, when Didier called me to tell me that I was not taken [to Euro 2016] for sporting reasons ... I would have preferred to be dismissed for sporting reasons," he added.

"The France team is something very special, and which accepted me a lot. When you have represented the national team, it's hard to accept that. When you see that today there are players who are called up and who play very little in their clubs, you tell yourself that there are rules for some and there are others.

"Don't tell me it was for sporting reasons. That’s what hurt and disappointed me. But then we had to move on to something else."