Karim Benzema disputes Didier Deschamps' claims over early World Cup exit

    Karim Benzema has rejected coach Didier Deschamps' assertion that he left the French squad of his own accord ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

    Karim Benzema. Karim Benzema.

    The Real Madrid striker, who was doubtful to play due to various injuries, left the team before their first game and announced his international retirement after the tournament.

    In a recent interview with Les Parisien, Deschamps insisted that Benzema's exit was his decision. "Karim was hurt because this World Cup meant a lot to him... He said to me, 'It's over'," the France boss said.

    "Our doctor's diagnosis matched the one we gave him in Madrid. When I left him, I told him: 'Karim, there is no urgency. You organise your return with the team manager'. When I woke up, I learned that he was gone. It was his decision, he won't tell you otherwise, I understand and respect it."

    However, Benzema disputed Deschamps' version of events in an Instagram story. He posted a picture of the France boss with the caption: "The audacity of this [clown emoji]! Holy Didier. Goodnight."

    Benzema and Deschamps have a long-standing feud. The striker was banned from the French national team from 2016 to 2021 due to his involvement in a blackmail case against former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Benzema accused the coach of giving in to pressure from France's "racist element" in his exclusion.

    The forward's departure from the World Cup squad was a significant blow to Les Bleus, who were eliminated in the final by Argentina.

    Benzema was the reigning Ballon d'Or holder and one of the world's most talented players, but his injuries prevented him from playing a significant role in the tournament.

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