Karim Benzema

French prosecutors have asked for Karim Benzema to stand trial in connection with an attempted blackmail in 2015 of Mathieu Valbuena over a “sex tape” alleged to have involved the Real Madrid striker’s former international team-mate.

The Real Madrid striker was alleged to have been involved in an attempt by blackmailers to extort money from a fellow France international ahead of a friendly against Armenia five years ago.

Valbuena was reportedly contacted by blackmailers who threatened to leak an intimate video of him, and Benzema is suspected of encouraging his ex-team-mate to meet their financial demands.

Benzema has consistently denied any involvement with the alleged blackmail plot, and has always insisted that he only broached the subject with Valbuena to warn him that such a tape existed.

Valbuena has previously alleged that Benzema urged him to pay up in order to avoid any footage surfacing in the public sphere, and condemned his compatriot’s actions during an in-depth interview in November 2015.

Valbuena, the former Marseille and Lyon player who now plies his trade in Greece with Olympiacos, told Le Monde: “I was more than disappointed. I told myself that it was quite simply a lack of respect. You can’t behave like that with anyone.”

Benzema has not played for his country since, with France head coach Didier Deschamps publicly expressing his belief that the forward “crossed the line”, and the Versailles prosecutor has now requested a trial against the 32-year-old, along with four other suspects.

“Some people can give speeches that can have consequences that go beyond any form of understanding, and I can never forget that,” Deschamps told Europe 1 in January 2019. “At that moment I considered that a line had been crossed.

“I pick French players, all of them are French and it has never occurred to me to not select someone based on their colour or religion. And in the same way the other way around, I would never pick someone based on the same criteria, because that would be just as bad or worse.”

Benzema has been enjoying one of his strongest seasons yet in a Madrid shirt.

The Frenchman has hit 22 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions for Zinedine Zidane’s side, who are currently sitting top of La Liga, four points ahead of arch-rivals Barcelona.