France Striker Karim Benzema Ruled out of World Cup 2022 with Thigh Injury

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The French national team said he had suffered a thigh problem and would not be able to feature in tournament.

France striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after sustaining a thigh injury in training.

Benzema, who won the 2022 Ballon d'Or award given to the player of the year in world football after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga, has been struggling with a muscle problem since October.

The 34-year-old striker was forced to leave defending champions France’s training session earlier on Saturday.

The French Football Federation said an MRI scan confirmed a thigh muscle injury “which will require a three-week recovery period,” adding that “The whole team shares Karim’s sadness and wishes him a speedy recovery.”

In a statement, Head coach Didier Deschamps said: “I am extremely sad for Karim who made this World Cup a major goal. Despite this new setback, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the immense challenge that awaits us.”

34-year-old Benzema, in an Instagram post, said: “I’ve never given up in my life but tonight I have to think of the team, as I have always done. So reason tells me to give my place to someone who can help our squad have a great World Cup. Thanks for all your messages of support.”

With Deschamps having until Monday to name a replacement, the injury to Benzema, who has scored 37 times in 97 matches for France, is another blow for the World Cup holders.

They are already without midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante because of injury, while Manchester United defender Raphael Varane is trying to be fit to play, having missed his past five club matches.

On Wednesday, RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku was ruled out of the tournament after he limped out of training, with Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani called up as a replacement.

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is one of the potential options who could come in for Benzema, who had played less than half an hour in his club's past six games and who underwent medical tests after leaving training injured.

It was the first time the striker had taken part in a full training session since the World Cup squad came together last week.