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Karim Benzema absent for blackmail trial in France

Real Madrid remain the favorites for a disgruntled Kylian Mbappe, but Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola wonder what it would take for the PSG star to wind up in England -- lkely with Liverpool or Man City.

VERSAILLES, France -- Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema wasn’t present Wednesday for the opening of his three-day trial for involvement in an alleged attempt to blackmail former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

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The 33-year-old Benzema’s legal team told the court in Versailles that professional obligations made it “impossible” for him to attend.

Valbuena’s lawyer said he deplored the absence.

Karim Benzema played for Madrid in Kyiv on Tuesday against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. Madrid plays again Sunday against Barcelona in the Spanish league.

Four other people accused of attempted blackmail in the case were present in court.

Karim Benzema is on trial for complicity in attempted blackmail.

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The charges are punishable by up to five years in prison and a 75,000 euro ($87,400) fine. Benzema has denied wrongdoing.