Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has repeated his call for Noel Le Graet, the president of France’s football federation, to stop talking about him after an interview with French media in which Le Graet said the 30-year-old’s time with the national team “was finished”.
“I have nothing against Karim,” said Le Graet. “He has always carried himself well in the French team, but I think Les Bleus are over for him, especially since he may be less fit than before.”
In response, Benzema tweeted, “Monsieur Le Graet, I ask you to forget about me. France are world champions and that’s the essential thing, the rest is just futile. Thankyou,” with the hashtags, “CaSuffit” (“That will do”) and “GiveMeABreak”.
Benzema has 21 goals in 81 caps for France, but has not played for the national team since 2015, due to his alleged role in the blackmail of France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, a charge the striker denies. He is still awaiting a court ruling to see whether he has a case to answer.
This is not the first time Le Graet’s comments have prompted a response from Benzema, with the France official having said in a May interview that the striker was “ancient history”.
“Monsieur Le Graet, with all the respect that I owe you, you have missed an opportunity to shut up,” Benzema wrote then.
The 18-year-old will be handed his England Under-21 debut against Andorra on Thursday or against Scotland on Tuesday.
The Young Lions need a point from their final two Group Four games to qualify for Euro 2019.
England’s latest young crop of talent has been dubbed the new ‘Golden Generation’ after the David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard era – although they failed to meet expectations.
The age groups have won the Under-17 World Cup, Under-20 World Cup and the Toulon Tournament for three straight years.
And Foden believes the current crop of talent can become individually as good as the past stars.
He said: “Yeah, definitely. We have got a lot of quality in the team and Jadon (Sancho) is an example. If you are playing well, he (Gareth Southgate) will give you a chance and he isn’t scared to call you up no matter what your age.
“It is exciting times for England with all these exciting kids coming through and the great thing is Gareth isn’t afraid to give us a chance. It’s good.
“Hopefully in the future we can win the World Cup. I think it is really good and it is going well.”
Looks like Phil Foden has been spending too much time with Kyle Walker 😂 pic.twitter.com/BUIgxPrzJ1— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 10, 2018
Foden has made five appearances for City this season as he tries to make an impression under Pep Guardiola.
He will be under consideration for Euro 2019, should the under-21s qualify as expected, but admits Euro 2020 remains an aim.
“Yeah, definitely. I’m hoping so. If it doesn’t happen, I will just keep working hard,” he said.
“Hopefully the time will come but that is what I am aiming for.”
England Under-21s host Andorra in Chesterfield on Thursday which is exactly a year since Foden scored in England Under-17s’ 3-2 group stage win over Mexico at the World Cup.
He also scored twice in the final as England beat Spain 5-2 to lift the trophy as well as being named player of the tournament.
Foden added: “It’s gone fast since then. I’ll always look back on it, great memories – it was obviously a special moment to win a World Cup but now I want to win it for higher ages and keep doing it.”
Frank Lampard has challenged Mason Mount to eclipse his own England career.
The 19-year-old received his first senior international call-up for the Nations League fixtures against Croatia and Spain having shone in Lampard’s Derby side.
After spending last season on a similar agreement at Vitesse Arnhem, Mount has already scored five goals for the Rams and has been an ever-present so far this campaign.
Mount revealed that Lampard had playfully told him he had made the senior squad before challenging him to beat the 106 caps he accrued playing for the Three Lions.
“He’s obviously got over 100 caps so he said to see if I can break that,” he said.
“It was the first thing he said to me. He’s given me loads of advice so far and I’m just trying to take it all in. It’s a long season so I’m going to learn so much off him.
“For me personally, learning off someone that’s done so well in the game, as a midfielder I can learn so much off him and I have done so far.
“I actually found out before he pulled me in the office. He was sitting in there with (assistant manager) Jody Morris… he said he was thinking of looking to drop me for the next game, and maybe give me a rest.
“He dropped that first but then he smiled and said, ‘No, I’ve just spoken to Gareth, you’ve been selected for the seniors’.”
Southgate’s appreciation of Mount’s talent became clear when he asked the youngster to train with his squad for four days before they jetted off to Russia for the World Cup.
Mount admits that experience only made him more determined to return on a more full-time basis as he looks to become the first outfield Championship player to earn an England cap since Cardiff’s Jay Bothroyd in 2010.
“One hundred per cent, coming in before the World Cup, training for four days, it made me hungrier to get into the squad,” he added.
“Being selected for the under-21s was a massive achievement for me and it was a goal.
“You get to know the staff, the players, being in and around the meetings, is it definitely a step up.
“They are playing Champions League football, they are playing Premier League football, they are the top, top players in the world so it is a step up.
“But when I get on the pitch I try to play my football and to be tactically and mentally ready.”