PARIS // France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena indicated on Sunday that he would be willing to play alongside Karim Benzema in the national team at Euro 2016 despite the ongoing blackmail case involving the Real Madrid striker.
“We will see how it goes, but yes, no problem, anything is possible. It wasn’t like it was a murder,” the Lyon midfielder told television station TF1.
His comments come despite Benzema being sidelined by the French Football Federation after being charged with complicity to blackmail and conspiring to commit a criminal act involving a sex tape featuring Valbuena.
The charges carry a possible prison sentence of five years. He was also banned from meeting Valbuena, 31, a midfielder for Lyon, where Benzema began his career.
Valbuena’s form has recently dipped to such an extent that he may struggle to win his place back in Didier Deschamps’s France side and he admitted that “this affair will come up again with the Euros approaching and two France players implicated”.
He added: “The Euros have been our objective for the last two years. We are preparing for them and I don’t imagine myself for a second not being involved.
“There is no guarantee. I have had a chat with the coach but I am not going to discuss what was said. We talked about a lot of things that made me feel better.”
Currently sidelined with a thigh injury, Valbuena last played for France in a 2-1 friendly win in Denmark in October.
He was left out of the squad for the November friendly matches against Germany and England with Deschamps saying he wanted to “protect” his player following the blackmail affair.
“It was hard to accept. At the time I was angry because I was the victim and was penalised twice ... Looking back, I now understand his decision. 2015 is behind me now. It’s time to move on,” he said.
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