Head coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid lent his backing to striker Karim Benzema, who is to face trial for his suspected role in Mathieu Valbuena’s attempted extortion.
Since 2015, the case has been whirring on and has cost players the chance to compete in both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.
Benzema is accused of attempting to extort money before a friendly match against Armenia from his fellow French star.
And AFP states that at an as yet unspecified date, he will be brought to court, facing a possible term of up to five years in prison.
However, Zidane is optimistic that justice will land on the side of the prolific forward who, since 2009, has been in the ranks of Los Blancos.
“Benzema has my full support,” said Zidane on Friday. “I know the situation is not straightforward. What I see is the important thing, and he is all right.
There are complicated circumstances and we want to fix them as easily as we can. He distances himself from all that and focuses on his career, on his family. When he is on the pitch, he does what he likes and tries to make people happy.
The lawyer from Benzema replied to the news that his client is accused of conspiracy to attempt blackmail by telling the Efe news agency, “The decision to prosecute him is ridiculous and unfair cruelty.”
“In this case, Benzema has nothing to be ashamed of.”
Paul-Albert Iweins, Valbuena’s lawyer, told L’Equipe that the decision to go to trial was “the logical continuation of the instruction that perfectly identified the participation of the different individuals.”
Despite his off-field problems, with 261 efforts registered across 533 appearances, Benzema has remained a powerful source of goals for Los Blancos. This count places him in the fifth position in the club’s all-time standings, behind only the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul, and Alfredo Di Stefano.
Indeed, Benzema has been increasingly important to the club since Ronaldo left the Bernabeu for Juventus in the summer of 2018, and has been the constant in their forward line during that time of transition.