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Deschamps free to pick Benzema, Le Graet reveals

Goal.com logo Goal.com 24-02-2017

Karim Benzema is not suspended from the French national team and his selection is in the hands of coach Dider Deschamps, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has confirmed.

Benzema has been in international exile since being placed under formal investigation by French police in November 2015 over an alleged blackmail plot involving fellow France international Mathieu Valbuena, with both players missing Euro 2016 on home soil.

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Le Graet previously said Benzema, who has denied any wrongdoing, was free to return to the fold once the legal proceedings are over but he told a media conference on Friday the decision over his recall is down to Deschamps.

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"Karim Benzema can play with the French national team," Le Graet said. "He's not suspended.

"If Didier [Deschamps] wants to call him he can at any time. It is the choice of the head coach, 100 per cent."

Le Graet expressed his frustration at how long Benzema's legal case has taken to be resolved, while hailing the forward's goalscoring prowess.

"I personally think highly of Karim Benzema and, first of all, regard him highly within the sport," Le Graet said. "He's the best French scorer in Europe.

"He's in the line-up of Real Madrid, which is not an easy task. No one can contest he has a lot of qualities.

"This case is taking ages to be resolved. It doesn't mean that I don't rate such a good player... The justice is a little slow in this case, in my opinion.

"The French Federation has always been clear about it. At one stage he couldn't join the French national team. It's true he wasn't in the group to play in the European Championship, but the qualities of the player are real."

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