Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has said that Karim Benzema should ‘definitely’ play for France, before comparing the striker to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benzema, 32 next month, has been a consistent goalscorer throughout his professional career and has represented France over 80 times.
But the former Lyon marksman hasn’t played for Les Bleus since 2015, partly due to an alleged blackmail plot against former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena the same year.
Real Madrid legend Zidane said he doesn’t exactly ‘know what’s going on’ in terms of Benzema’s exclusion from Didier Deschamps’ set up, but feels that his man is ‘the best’ for the job – and added that he’s always wanted to do it.
‘He’s always wanted to play for the French side,’ Zidane told a news conference on Friday ahead of Saturday’s clash with Eibar. ‘To be honest, I don’t know exactly what’s going on.
‘But from a football point of view, he’s the best. I think he should definitely have a place in the French national team. It’s beyond my role here, but he should definitely be called up.’
Benzema’s midweek brace against Galatasaray in the Champions League – which included his 50th goal in the tournament for the club – brought him above Alfredo Di Stefano in Los Blancos’ all-time goal-scoring list, behind only Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo.
This led Zidane to compare the striker to the Portuguese, saying: ‘His numbers speak for themselves. Those that like football know he’s a quality player. He’s important for the team, for attacking… he does it very well.
‘The only thing that’s changed since Cristiano Ronaldo [left for Juventus] is that Karim is more mature. He’s a father and, well, many things have happened lately which are reflected on the pitch.
‘I’m very happy for Karim. It’s true that he’s overtaken a legend of this club like Alfredo di Stefano. He’s now like Cristiano Ronaldo in the history of this club.
Following his omission four years ago, Benzema accused Deschamps in 2018 of bowing to the pressure of racist sections within French society that were opposed to his inclusion due to his Algerian heritage.