France have always known Karim Benzema is “not coming back” to the World Cup despite his return to training with Real Madrid, according to reports.
The Real Madrid striker was honoured with the Ballon d’Or in October for his brilliant season in 2021/22, when he won a fifth Champions League title with the Spanish giants.
Benzema would have been one of the most high-profile players for holders France in Qatar but it was revealed just before the tournament that he would play no part at the World Cup.
The 34-year-old posted on Instagramat the time: “In my life I never give up but tonight I have to think about the team, like I always do, so the reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our team to make a great World Cup.
“Thank you for all your messages of support.”
But The Sun claimed yesterday that Benzema would be ‘available for France selection for the World Cup final’ after making a ‘full recovery’ from injury.
The Sun, quoting a report in Spanish newspaper Marca, claimed that Benzema had been ‘training without issue since last Saturday’ and that he could make a return for the final.
When asked if Benzema could make a shock return on Sunday for the World Cup final, France boss Didier Deschamps replied: “I don’t really want to answer that question, next question. I do apologise.”
However, French journalist Julien Laurens claims that Deschamps was translated wrong, he told talkSPORT: “No, the translation was wrong, He said ‘I don’t even want to answer you because it’s a stupid question.”
Laurens was asked whether Benzema could make the final, to which he responded: “I don’t know who made that up. I don’t where it’s come from.
“We’ve known since Karim went home that he’s not coming back. He’s just started training again with Real Madrid, so he’s not fit for a World Cup final.
“He hasn’t been here for three weeks, so it would be very unfair on the current squad.
“Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani, who scored with his first touch after 40 seconds on the pitch, what now you’re going to say, ‘Karim is ahead of you in the pecking order?’ No.”
Deschamps revealed after France’s 2-0 victory over Morocco in the semi-final that a number of ill players have had to be isolated from the rest of his squad ahead of Sunday’s blockbuster clash with Argentina.
“We’ve had a few cases of flu-like symptoms,” Deschamps said.
“In Doha, temperatures have fallen a little bit, you have air conditioning which is on all the time. We are trying to be careful so it doesn’t spread and players have made great efforts out on the pitch and obviously their immune systems suffer.
“Dayot Upamecano felt sick immediately after the (England) match – it happens when you make such an effort, your body is weakened and you are more prone to be infected by these viruses.
“We are taking all necessary precautions, we are trying to make sure it doesn’t spread but viruses are of course infectious and we have to take precautions against it. We separated him from others and Adrien as well.
“Kingsley Coman was also feverish this afternoon. Adrien was sick, he was a little bit better this afternoon but he just wasn’t well enough so he stayed in the hotel, we have a four-day rest so he should be better and available for Sunday.”