Aurelien Tchouameni has rubbished suggestions the France squad is a more harmonious place without Karim Benzema after reaching the World Cup knockout rounds.
Didier Deschamps’ side are into the last 16 at Qatar 2022 after victory over Denmark in Group D, with Kylian Mbappe’s double firing Les Bleus to a 2-1 win on Saturday.
The attacker has delivered for his side so far in the absence of Benzema, with the Ballon d’Or winner ruled out on the eve of the tournament with a thigh injury.
Some reports have suggested there has been a better atmosphere in the absence of the Real Madrid star, who was not involved at Russia 2018, but Tchouameni has now sought to dispel those rumours.
“I want to come back to something we saw concerning the departure of Karim,” Tchouameni stated about his club and international team-mate.
“[Somewhere said] we have felt better since he was no longer here.
“It’s totally false. Even when he was there, it was already going well. We have been hurt by these reports.
“What I can tell you is that since we arrived in Qatar, things have been going really well.”
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With two games under his belt, Tchouameni is fast becoming an integral member for Deschamps in his side’s title defence, with France boosted too by the return of defender Raphael Varane.
The Manchester United centre-back has been nursing a problem since late October, but made his return to action with a start against Denmark.
Reflecting on his injury, Varane added: “I’ve come a long way. It’s been a lot of work, a lot of effort to come back.
“I feel good. It’s always special to play at this exceptional event. I’ll take advantage of every moment. We will do everything to go as far as possible.”
France will conclude their Group D campaign against Tunisia on November 30, and will discover their last-16 opponents later that day when Group C concludes.