Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema have been left out of France’s squad to face Germany and England this month.
Coach Didier Deschamps has opted for the first time in his reign not to select Lyon playmaker Valbuena after admitting the player is not in the right mental condition due to the blackmail scandal currently surrounding him.
Benzema was interviewed by French police on Wednesday and Thursday in relation to an alleged sex-tape involving Valbuena.
Benzema’s lawyer Sylvain Cormier protested his client’s innocence, telling reporters outside the hearing in a video shown on lequipe.fr: “Karim Benzema will clear his name in this matter and, I hope, as soon as possible. His heart goes out to his friend Mathieu Valbuena.”
A condition of the Real Madrid striker’s release was that he cannot have any contact with the other people charged or with Valbuena, but Deschamps insists his absence is down to an ongoing thigh injury.
“Regarding Karim, he was not ready physically,” Deschamps said at a press conference broadcast on the French Football Federation’s official website.
“I chose to leave out Karim after speaking to him on Monday. He has not started training with Real Madrid after his injury.
“Concerning the police case, I have no knowledge of the matter. I will leave the police to deal with it.”
The case has seen Valbuena left out, though, with Deschamps stressing: “It is my decision to leave Mathieu Valbuena out of the squad.
“Mathieu has not been performing as well with Lyon, but you understand that he is not in the best condition psychologically because of this business.
“I will give him some breathing space for these two games.”
Hatem Ben Arfa, who has enjoyed a superb start to the season with Nice, has been called up to the squad and will have the chance to replace Valbuena.
Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman features in the squad for the first time but there is no place for Valbuena’s club-mate Alexandre Lacazette, who has struggled for form and fitness this season – leaving Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac to compete for Benzema’s regular spot up front.
Deschamps said: “Hatem has had a very good start to the season and I thought it was good to get him back in the France squad.
“Kingsley is a young player who has shown a lot of potential at Juventus and now Bayern Munich. He has pace and power and can play in several positions, on both wings, so it is interesting for me to see him here.”
Gignac left Marseille in the summer for Mexican side Tigres but Deschamps said: “Dede Gignac has continued to score goals and with the injury to Karim, he has profited.
“(Lacazette’s) performances have not been good enough. He is capable of much better.”
The squad features 10 Premier League players – Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Arsenal pair Giroud and Laurent Koscielny, Manchester City duo Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala, Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin, Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko.
France squad to face Germany on November 13 and England on November 17: Costil (Rennes), Lloris (Tottenham), Mandanda (Marseille); Digne (Roma), Evra (Juventus), Jallet (Lyon), Koscielny (Arsenal), Mangala (Manchester City), Sagna (Manchester City), Sakho (Liverpool), Varane (Real Madrid); Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Diarra (Marseille), Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Pogba (Juventus), Schneiderlin (Manchester United), Sissoko (Newcastle), Ben Arfa (Nice); Coman (Bayern Munich), Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Martial (Manchester United), Gignac (Tigres), Giroud (Arsenal).