PARIS/MADRID: Real Madrid centre-forward Karim Benzema will face trial for conspiracy to attempt blackmail of his former France teammate Matthieu Valbuena in a ‘sex video’ scandal.

The Versailles prosecutor’s office has alleged that the 33-year-old urged his former national teammate to pay blackmailers who threatened to reveal an intimate video in which Valbuena featured. Benzema has always denied the allegation and a date for the trial has yet to be set.

Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cornier, said: “This decision is as much absurd as it was predictable.”

The player has not been selected for the national team since November 2015 because of the scandal. At that time he had scored 27 goals in 81 internationals. It cost him his place in the France squad on home soil at Euro 2016 and the World Cup triumph in Russia in 2018.

Investigators claim Benzema was approached by a childhood friend that year to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police.

Four other people will also stand trial.

Benzema has scored more than 250 goals for Real Madrid with whom he has won four Champions Leagues.