Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has given his full backing to compatriot Karim Benzema after the French forward found out this week he is set to stand trial on the charge of conspiracy to attempt blackmail.
Versailles prosecutor’s office accuse the Real Madrid forward of having pressured his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena in 2015 to pay blackmailers who threatened to reveal an intimate video in which Valbuena appeared.
“He [Benzema] has my complete support,” Zidane said on Friday. “I know it’s not an easy situation. The important thing is what I see and he is well.”
No date for the trial has been set.
“These are difficult situations and we want it to be resolved as soon as possible,” Zidane said. “He [Benzema] detaches from all of that and focuses on his work, his family. He does what he likes and wants to make people happy when he is on the pitch.”
A starter at Madrid, Benzema has not played for France since October 2015 after being suspended by the French Football Federation (FFF) due to his alleged involvement in the alleged extortion of Valbuena. Benzema was allegedly approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and persuade Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police.
Benzema has denied any wrongdoing.
Zidane, meanwhile, is hopeful Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and winger Lucas Vazquez will soon sign new deals.
Madrid captain Ramos and Vazquez have yet to renew their contracts at the Bernabeu, which expire on June 30, and have been free to negotiate with other clubs since Jan. 1.
Asked ahead of Saturday’s league game at Osasuna if he feared the Spain internationals could leave this summer, Zidane said: “We will see what happens.
“I don’t want to think like that. In football you don’t know what can happen. I hope it gets sorted out. What I want for my players is for it to be resolved as soon as possible. For the time being Lucas and Sergio are here and we have a game tomorrow. My players are ready to play, to train, to do things well, that is what matters to me.”