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 By Mark Rodden

Karim Benzema's lawyer 'annoyed' at French prime minister Manuel Valls

Karim Benzema's lawyer has voiced his displeasure with French prime minister Manuel Valls following the decision not to select the Real Madrid striker for Euro 2016.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet and head coach Didier Deschamps had opted not to lift Benzema's suspension from the national team. And Le Graet has subsequently revealed that it was a very difficult decision, but a necessary one to protect "squad harmony."

Benzema, 28, was suspended indefinitely in December after he was charged with conspiracy to blackmail as part of an investigation into an alleged attempt to extort money from France team mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Valls said in December that a great athlete had "no place" in a French national team if his record was not "exemplary."

He repeated that assertion in March, saying that he did not think the conditions had been met to allow Benzema to return to the fold.

Reacting to Wednesday's decision, Benzema's lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti told RMC that Valls should have steered clear of the issue.

"I don't want to personalise it," said Dupond-Moretti, who only began representing Benzema in the case last month.

"We're not going to call him Manuel Valls. I'm annoyed with the person who embodies this position for having involved himself in the selection of the French team. It's not his job."

Former France manager Raymond Domenech, who left Benzema out of his 2010 World Cup squad, said he would have taken the same decision as Deschamps because the cohesion of a group is more important than the quality of a player.

"The philosophy of the manager makes the difference," Domenech told Europe 1. "He makes the decision to gather the stars or he makes the decision for cohesion with players who are a little less talented."

Domenech said there was a precedent with another former France boss, Aime Jacquet, who left David Ginola and Eric Cantona out of his squad for Euro 96 before guiding Les Bleus to glory at the 1998 World Cup.

"Didier Deschamps is well placed to know it," Domenech said. "He was in this team and Ginola and Cantona, who were the dominant players, were not selected.

"Aime Jacquet was criticised in the media for not having taken the two stars and in the end he was a world champion."

Ex-France international Christophe Dugarry said the FFF had access to the case files and was therefore in a good position to judge.

The former Bordeaux and Marseille forward felt it would have been difficult to select Benzema in any case because public opinion in France is very much against it.

While he had mixed feelings, Dugarry also thinks that the unity of a squad takes precedence.

"Look at Juventus last year or Atletico Madrid over the past few years. They don't have any stars," he told L'Equipe.

"In 1996 at the Euros, the absence of Ginola and Cantona was a loss because they could have brought us things but the most important thing always remains the squad."

Mark covers European football for ESPN FC. Twitter: @mrodden

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