Laurent Blanc says France’s much-criticised striker Karim Benzema is simply “not used to working”, in an interview to be published in the France-Soir newspaper on Thursday.
The Real Madrid goalscorer has been upbraided by his club coach Jose Mourinho for being lazy, and France manager Blanc said his attitude could be explained by the company he keeps.
Asked if Benzema didn’t work enough, Blanc replied: “He’s not used to working.
“When you’re face to face with the person, he listens. But even attentive, receptive players, when they go out in the street they meet people who tell them: ‘You’re the best, you play for Real Madrid, you don’t need to work’.
“These are false friends.”
Blanc has made little secret of his desire to build his France team around Benzema, who netted the opening goal in France’s impressive 2-0 win at Bosnia-Hercegovina in a Euro 2012 qualifier earlier this month.
Benzema started for Real Madrid in their Champions League group phase game at Auxerre on Tuesday, but was substituted with half an hour to play of Real’s 1-0 victory after a largely anonymous performance.
Blanc also spoke about Yoann Gourcuff, who has yet to hit the heights in a France jersey despite some stellar performances in Bordeaux’s colours in their title-winning 2008-09 season under Blanc.
“He’s an introverted boy, help him,” said Blanc of a player who recently joined Lyon in a 22 million euros move.
“Let him play. Let him mature, quite simply. Remember that at his age, Zinedine (Zidane) was the little guy who turned up with his back-pack to the France squad.”
Gourcuff is seen as the apparent successor to Zidane in the France team, but Blanc said he would not burden him with the responsibility of the captaincy.
“For the time being, no,” said Blanc, a World Cup winner with France in 1998.
“He’s at a phase where he’s still establishing himself and it’s not the easiest phase. Giving him extra responsibilities would not help him.”
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