Karim Benzema has hit back at Didier Deschamps, suggesting the France coach is not being honest about the Real Madrid forward’s departure from his World Cup squad.
Deschamps gave an interview to the Le Parisien newspaper — published on Friday — describing the circumstances surrounding Benzema’s omission from the squad after he suffered a thigh injury in training ahead of the tournament in Qatar.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
Benzema’s agent has previously criticised Deschamps’ decision to send the player home, with sources telling ESPN that Benzema felt he could have remained with the squad to participate later in the tournament, when he returned to fitness.
“There’s only one truth, and Karim knows it well,” Deschamps told Le Parisien.
“Karim is annoyed because this World Cup meant a lot to him. [After the results of a scan confirmed his injury] he told me he was ‘dead’. In the best-case scenario, his return to training couldn’t have been before Dec. 10.
“When I left him, I said ‘Karim, there’s no hurry. Organise your return with the team manager.’ When I woke up, I realised he had gone. It was his decision.”
Benzema responded on social media later on Friday, sharing the quotes from Deschamps in an Instagram story, writing “what a nerve” followed by a clown emoji, followed by another story in which he wrote “Dear Didier, goodnight” accompanied by a video clip of a man repeatedly saying the word “liar.”
The Ballon d’Or winner has struggled with a series of injuries this season. He made just one substitute appearance for Real Madrid in the month before the World Cup, in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to return to fitness in time for the tournament.
Overall he has started 15 of Madrid’s 25 LaLiga games this season, scoring 11 goals, and missed Saturday’s game with Espanyol with an ankle problem.
Benzema did not play for France for six years, excluded by Deschamps over his alleged involvement in the blackmail of former teammate Mathieu Valbuena, before returning in 2021.
He retired from international football in December after France’s World Cup final defeat to Argentina, saying “I’ve made the efforts and mistakes that were necessary for me to be where I am today and I’m proud of it! I’ve written my story and ours comes to an end.”