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French striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of participation in the World Cup due to a thigh injury sustained in training.
Benzema, 34, won the 2022 Ballon d’Or – awarded to the world’s best player – after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga.
“I am very sad for Karim, who has made this World Cup an important goal,” said national coach Didier Deschamps.
“In my life I never give up, but tonight I have to think about the team as I always do,” said Benzema.
“So the reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our team make it a great World Cup.”
The French Football Federation said: “The whole team shares Karim’s grief and wishes him a speedy recovery.”
It said an MRI scan confirmed the injury, which requires “a three-week recovery period”.
France will play Australia on November 22, Denmark on November 26 and Tunisia in Group D on November 30.
Deschamps, who must appoint a replacement for Benzema on Monday, has lost a number of key players due to injuries.
Midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were not included in the original 26-man squad.
Defender Presnel Kimpembe withdrew on Monday after failing to recover from a hamstring problem – he was replaced by Axel Disasi – and striker Christopher Nkunku was ruled out on Wednesday after limping in training. Randal Kolo Muani was called up as a substitute.
Defender Raphael Varane is aiming to be fit after missing Manchester United’s past five games.
United striker Anthony Martial is an option to replace Benzema, who has been battling a thigh problem since October and has played less than half an hour in Real’s past six games.
Saturday was his first full training session since the World Cup squad came together last week.
Deschamps said: “Despite this new setback, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything we can to meet the immense challenge that lies ahead.”
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