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Friday 23. December 2022 - 11:59

Karim Benzema unfollows all but FIVE of his ex-France teammates after quitting the team following bitter World Cup exit

The fallout from Karim Benzema's acrimonious World Cup exit continues after the Real Madrid star unfollowed almost all of his former France teammates on Instagram.

Benzema was sent home on the eve of the tournament after picking up an injury, but there was some speculation that he could have returned for the final after playing in a friendly for Real Madrid.

However, he reportedly rejected the opportunity to go back to Qatar after falling out with manager Didier Deschamps, and took to social media to confirm that he has decided to call time on his international career earlier this week.

And now Marca reports that Benzema has performed a cull of his social media, unfollowing all but five of his former teammates on the national squad, who are Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouaméni, Kylian Mbappe, Raphael Varane and Marcus Thuram.

Camavinga and Tchouameni are Benzema's teammates at Madrid, while Varane used to play alongside the striker at Los Blancos. He still follows former Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who has been strongly linked with the national team post as Deschamps weighs up his future.

Benzema is also a follower of Nusret Gökçe - better known as 'Salt Bae' - who caused controversy by appearing on the pitch after the World Cup final.

Since Benzema's retirement, footage has emerged of the 35-year-old receiving a frosty reception from his former teammates upon his return to the national team last year.

Deschamps gave a speech during a team meal to welcome the Madrid striker back into the fold, but fans spotted Les Bleus captain Hugo Lloris with a thunderous look on his face, sparking speculation that not every French player was on board with his return.

"I made the effort and the mistakes it took to be where I am today and I'm proud of it! I have written my story and ours is ending," Benzema wrote on Instagram on Monday afternoon when announcing his retirement.

Benzema rejected an offer from French president Emmanuel Macron to take his personal private jet to Qatar for Sunday's final.

That followed his 'I'm not interested' message ahead of the final as he strongly hinted he would snub any call-up.

He did, however, post a good luck message to his team-mates that read: "It's time… all together. Vamonos. Come on Les Bleus."

Deschamps is planning to hold talks with the French Football Federation in the new year over his future, but Benzema has opted to not wait to see how those discussions play out and has quit the national team.

Benzema finishes his France career with 37 goals in 97 caps, but his journey with the national team has been far from smooth since his debut 15 years ago.

Benzema made his international debut against Austria in March 2007 and scored during his substitute appearance in the second-half.

He was selected for France's Euro 2008 squad but was criticised for his performances in the group stages of the tournament as the team crashed out early.

Despite playing regularly during the qualification campaign, Benzema was left out of France's squad for the 2010 World Cup, though coach Raymond Domenech insisted it was due to his club form with Real Madrid rather than his alleged involvement in a sex scandal at the time.

Benzema would play at Euro 2012 and World Cup 2014 but his part in the sex tape blackmail plot involving France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena led to a five-year absence from the international fold, which included their victorious 2018 World Cup campaign.

He returned to the France squad for Euro 2020 last year and scored four goals during the tournament to end up as the third-highest goalscorer.

After impressing in the UEFA Nations League finals, Benzema won the first trophy of his time with the national side.

Following an excellent year in which he won the Champions League and the Ballon d'Or, Benzema had expected to be a force in the French attack at the World Cup until his injury intervened.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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