PARIS – Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was absent again on Thursday from the list called by coach Didier Deschamps for the next three matches of the France national squad.
The coach said that the absence of the player, despite the good season he is having with Real Madrid, is because a team was created with balance and harmony, implying that Benzema is not part of this.
France is set to face Paraguay in a friendly in Rennes on June 2, Sweden on June 9 in Stockholm in a Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier and England in a friendly at Saint Denis on June 13.
The called squad includes Barcelona’s Lucas Digne and Samuel Umtiti, Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann.
However, Atletico’s Kevin Gameiro is out of the call, leaving his post to Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette.
The coach has also called the coveted Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe, 18.
Deschamps said he is not affected by the recent criticism from Benzema over his absence from the squad since October 2015, after the player was accused of complicity in a case of blackmail with a sex tape of his teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The coach explained that this squad was built before Euro 2016 and solidified during that competition, in which they reached the final, adding that the team now has balance and harmony thanks to their competitive dynamic which is a priority to him.
Deschamps stressed that he is the one who decides on the team and he is responsible for his decisions, which are based on sports factors.
In an interview published on Wednesday by the newspaper L’Équipe, Benzema, 29, said that Deschamps is inconsistent in not summoning him and criticized the coach for not explaining the reasons for his absence.
The France national list:
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (PSG), Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Barcelona), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Benjamin Mendy (Monaco), Djibril Sidibe, Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Midfielder: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (PSG), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Lyon)
Strikers: Oymane Dembele (Dortmund), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe, Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Florian Thauvin (Marseille).