Reports in Spain suggest that France striker Karim Benzema could be in line for a shock return to Qatar to play in the World Cup final.
The Real Madrid forward had been expected to miss the whole tournament after returning to Spain following a thigh injury that he suffered the day before the tournament began.
The 34-year-old was expected to be out for three weeks, meaning there was almost no chance that he would be match fit for the final, with no certainty Didier Deschamps’ side would reach the showpiece after suffering a number of injuries, including Paul Pogba, Christopher Nkunku, Presnel Kimpembe, N’Golo Kante and Lucas Hernandez.
Benzema also anticipated that he would not be able to compete, saying: “So reason tells me to give my place to someone who can help our squad have a great World Cup.”
Despite the gloomy prognosis, France did not call up a replacement, with Randal Kolo Muani already a late addition for the team’s forward line.
However, the Ballon d’Or winner is now back in training for his club side and Mundo Deportivo reports that he could be brought back ahead of the weekend’s game against Argentina.
The paper claims that Real Madrid are happy to let the striker go back to Qatar and the decision now rests with Deschamps, who has used a number of attacking players as his side have emerged as one of the best sides of the 2022 tournament, despite many setbacks with injuries to key players in the weeks before the competition got underway.
After beating Morocco, Deschamps did not confirm any plans, saying: “I’d prefer to move on to the next question.”
In the absence of Benzema, Olivier Giroud has led the line for France, with the 36-year-old AC Milan forward becoming France’s all-time top goalscorer during the competition, though he could potentially be replaced by his fellow veteran attacker if he proves his fitness.
As well as Muani and Giroud, Antoine Griezmann has offered support from a deeper role than he traditionally plays, with Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele also playing in attack, along with Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram.