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Lloris opens up on Benzema’s World Cup departure: “Everything happened so quickly”



Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images

After guiding France to two consecutive World Cup finals and one title, Hugo Lloris announced his retirement from international football on Monday night. The goalkeeper’s decision did not come as a surprise given his age, as he saw it as the right thing to pass on the baton to the next generation.

Lloris spoke to the media about a plethora of topics on the eve of his international retirement, one of which was Karim Benzema.

When asked about the alleged internal politics that led to the Real Madrid captain being sent home from the World Cup and his retirement after that, Lloris told L’Equipe (h/t Eurosport FR):

“We would all have preferred to have the Ballon d’Or winner when we saw what he has brought since his return. It would have been a major plus.”

Benzema picked up a thigh injury just before France’s World Cup campaign began. The injury, however, was not serious and the striker had recovered in time for the knockout stages. But manager Didier Deschamps did not call upon the Ballon d’Or winner’s services.

The intent was clear from the very start when he sent the striker home for a minor injury with a favourable prognosis.

Lloris did add that the entire episode surrounding the striker’s departure from Qatar left the players surprised, as he said:

“For Karim, we were all a bit surprised. What we, players, experienced with his departure is this: you train in the evening, he gets injured, you go to bed, and the next day when you get up you are told that Karim has left. Everything happened so quickly.”

It was later reported that several players in the dressing room including Antoine Griezmann and Lloris allegedly did not like the Real Madrid star’s inclusion on the squad. The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper’s latest statement, however, contradicts the reports.

“But there are many things that have been said that are either untrue or ridiculous: the atmosphere was very good before he left, and very good afterwards, and it normally increased thanks to our performance and the euphoria,” he said.

“I’m not going to say that we pushed for him to leave. That’s completely untrue. He helped us win the Nations League and his return has only been positive. I think it’s really dishonest to say that some of us could have encouraged his departure.”

The truth around the striker’s exclusion from the event last month may never come to light, although it has been suggested in France that Benzema might speak up on the matter to explain his side of the story.

Benzema returned to the turf for Real Madrid’s game against Real Valladolid and started again against Villarreal. In his two games after the restart, the veteran has scored three goals including two penalties.

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool monitoring 19-year-old Bundesliga wonderkid – Romano



Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

According to Fabrizio Romano, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Liverpool are all monitoring Bayer Leverkusen and Germany wonderkid Florian Wirtz.

After recovering from his ACL injury, the teenage sensation has been slowly working his way back to his best form. So far this term, Wirtz has managed to rack up a tally of two goals and six assists from 13 matches in all competitions.

The 19-year-old’s talent and potential have never been in question and hence it does not come as a surprise that elite clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Liverpool are all keeping tabs on the German international.

A versatile attacking midfielder, Wirtz is capable of playing anywhere in the final third of the pitch and backs up with top-notch end product. Be it as a false-nine or in a more withdrawn role, the youngster has excelled for Bayer Leverkusen, catching the attention of top teams.

Real Madrid, for their part, are also understood to be among Wirtz’s admirers. Given the situation surrounding Karim Benzema’s fitness and the lack of backup at the top, the youngster could be an option, as he has shown potential while operating through the middle.

But Barcelona also have a strong interest in the teenager with reports even suggesting that they have already made contact with his father to enquire about his situation.

At the same time, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is understood to be a huge admirer of his fellow German and with Roberto Firmino on his way out, Wirtz could be lined up as a possible replacement.

However, Romano adds that the expectation is that Wirtz could stay at Bayer Leverkusen for one more year and depart Germany once the UEFA Euro 2024 is out of the way.

For now, there have been talks or negotiations with any clubs, but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool are all tracking Wirtz and his progress in Germany.

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