Carlo Ancelotti has said Karim Benzema is excited and motivated to prove himself with Real Madrid after an injury-hit start to the season culminated in him being sent home early from France’s World Cup campaign.
Benzema suffered a thigh injury three days before France were due to play their first game in Qatar, leading coach Didier Deschamps to withdraw him from the squad — a decision subsequently criticized as premature by the Ballon d’Or winner’s agent.
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“I won’t get into the decision that France took,” Madrid boss Ancelotti said in a news conference on Thursday, when asked about Deschamps’ unwillingness to wait on Benzema’s fitness.
“They evaluated Karim’s situation in the moment. For them, he wasn’t going to be able to play again at the World Cup and they let him go.
“For us, the player has come back with a lot of excitement and a lot of motivation. He knows that he didn’t do what he wanted to in the first part of the season. In the second part, I’m convinced he ‘ll do well and help us a lot.”
A series of hamstring problems meant Benzema started just seven of Real Madrid’s 14 league games before the World Cup — scoring five goals — but he is expected to feature when the team returns to LaLiga action away at Real Valladolid on Friday.
“Karim came back on December 10 after his holidays,” Ancelotti added. “When he got back he was fine, he started working with the team. He played 30 minutes in our first friendly and 45 minutes in our second. Little by little, he’s getting better… He didn’t play much in the first half of the season and now he’ll show all his quality.”
Ancelotti said Madrid — who earlier this month moved to wrap up a deal for teenage Brazilian forward Endrick to arrive in 2024 when he turns 18 — are not planning to add to their squad in January.
“For sure, [the window] is closed for arrivals,” Ancelotti said. “We don’t need players, the squad is well put together. As for departures, that depends on what the players think, especially those who have played less, if they have an opportunity with a team where they could play more. But arrivals? Well.”