While sitting at a computer in Clairefontaine, Karim Benzema has taken stock of an eventful few weeks at Real Madrid which witnessed coach Zinedine Zidane left the club, and the striker himself earn a recall to the France national team.
Not shying away from any topic, it has been six years since he last turned out for Les Bleus, and now he will form a strike partnership alongside Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe, with whom he admits he already has a special bond.
Carlo Ancelotti is also back on the Real Madrid bench, and Benzema revealed that the Italian has been welcomed by all the players in the Los Blancos squad.
Q: You look like the happiest man on the planet.
A: Sure, I feel like the happiest man in the world. For me, what makes me happiest is my family and football.
And I am happy in Madrid, and nothing that I have returned with France to play the European Championship, I can only be proud, happy and looking forward to starting the tournament.
Q: Do you feel the potential of this France team in every training session? Do you see why they are favourites?
A: It is a very, very strong team throughout, from the goalkeeper to the midfield and the attacks… with players in the best clubs in the world.
Then speaking of the favourite is more something that is spoken of outside of here. We know the strength that we have in this team, although you have to show it.
Q: The group will see France take on Germany, a clash with your teammate [Toni] Kroos and also when you faced off in the World Cup quarter-final in 2014 you lost. Is there a feeling of revenge?
A: No, there is no revenge. Many things have happened after and a lot of time has passed. We have won the World Cup, we have been in the final of the European Championship… I only want to enjoy and win the match.
It’s clear that playing against Toni will be different because I am used to playing with him, he plays the ball to me a lot and now he will be my opponent.
Q: Will Real Madrid be capable of creating a great team next season despite the difficult situation brought about by COVID-19?
A: If we look at last season, we fought for the La Liga title until the last matchday and we were very close to winning it. We reached the semi-final of the Champions League and Chelsea beat us before going on to win the competition, we had 60 injuries and we never had a full-strength team, so it was complicated.
Having said that, if the club believe that we have to strengthen, they should do it, but the objective is to improve every year to win the title and we can do it.
Q: [Carlo] Ancelotti has placed a lot of faith in you; what is your opinion about his return?
A: It is good news; we know him well, players and fans. He is a great coach.
I like his philosophy, how he sees football, how he manages the group and how he leads the team. And he wants to win all the titles.
Q: [Zinedine] Zidane has also been very important in your career and he has left Real Madrid. Did you expect it? What is your opinion [on his departure]?
A: Yes, of course, it was a surprise for everyone, not only for me. But certainly, he has always been like a big brother to me. Because I have known him for a long time and he has helped me both on and off the pitch.
It was a difficult decision for everyone. Now we have another coach and we are going to try to be successful again.
Q: Would you like to play with [Kylian] Mbappe? What is your opinion about him on and off the pitch?
A: Kylian is a young player with immense quality and he is a good boy. He would be welcome at Real Madrid of course, but what team wouldn’t want to sign him in an instant? Now he has a contract with Paris Saint-Germain and we will see what he decides. Today our priority is to win the European Championship.