Karim Benzema happy to play with Mathieu Valbuena again: 'I hold no grudge'
On Sunday, TF1, a French television station, broadcast the second part of its exclusive interview with Benzema, who is under investigation over his alleged involvement in an attempt to blackmail Valbuena with a sex tape. The interview saw the French forward reaffirm his desire to feature at Euro 2016 alongside Valbuena, whose lawyer said that month that his client holds "no animosity" toward his international teammate.
"My goal is to play in the Euros with France," Benzema said, according to Marca. "I've always wanted to wear the 'Les Bleus' shirt. I've been at Real Madrid for seven years and have been representing France for the same amount of time. I've always had to fight to get where I am and I'm going to keep doing that."
Asked whether he'd be happy to play with Valbuena again, Benzema replied: "That's what I want. France need him and they need me too. I hold no grudge against him."
He also insisted he is "doing fine" in spite of the scandal.
"People are trying to destroy my image but it's okay. I'll keep being the same person until the end," he said.
Benzema was charged in the extortion case in November and placed under judicial supervision. The charges include complicity to blackmail and conspiring to commit a criminal act, which could carry a prison sentence of least five years.
As The Associated Press' Samuel Petrequin explains, "Preliminary charges under French law mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed, and allow time for further investigation. The charges may later be dropped."
In the first part of the interview, which aired Wednesday, Benzema also iterated his keenness for everything to return to normal, saying he wants to win Euro 2016 with Valbuena.
Just how the investigation plays out remains to be seen, but Benzema appears to be optimistic over its outcome.
"The Sun always shines after the storm," he said.