Olivier Giroud says Karim Benzema feud saw him reject transfer move

Olivier Giroud has admitted he turned down a move to Lyon in January due to their close ties with former striker Karim Benzema.

Real Madrid star Benzema is still well-revered at his old club despite leaving over a decade ago.

But his place in the France national team was taken over by Giroud, following Benzema's alleged involvement in blackmailing former teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

The scandal has seen Benzema ignored at international level since 2015, but he has still had time to criticise Giroud.

When asked to compare himself to Giroud earlier this year, Benzema replied: "You can’t confuse an F1 car with a go-kart and I’m being kind. I know I'm a Formula 1 car."

Giroud had been courted by Lyon just two months prior to Benzema's comments, but has now conceded he rejected a move because of his rival's status at the Ligue 1 club.

"Unfortunately it's the cruel truth," Giroud told Le Progres. "I have to come to terms with that.

"From a footballing standpoint, the move would've been fine.

"But I didn't want to run the slightest risk of danger to my family, particularly considering how some people reacted at the time."

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Giroud now looks on the verge of leaving Chelsea for Juventus amid reports he has agreed a deal in principle with the Italian club.

A move to Lyon could have been made all the more difficult had they got their wish of re-signing Benzema in the near future.

Meanwhile French publication RMC Sport reported back in January that the courts are looking to bring a case against Benzema for 'aiding and abetting a blackmail attempt' with regards to his incident with Valbuena.

Benzema's lawyer has maintained his client played no part in any such allegations, but Valbuena's account differs.

Speaking to Le Monde in 2015, Valbuena said: "He [Benzema] wasn't aggressive, and he didn't speak to me firmly, directly about money, but when you insist that I meet someone … hmmm.

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"Personally, I've never known of anyone willing to destroy a video for free just because they love me! You can't take people for idiots.

"Afterwards, he said several times that I was dealing with 'big bandits' and he added: "After all, the video is hot. If it was me, with my family and all … you'd have to be strong.

"He would say: 'I can introduce you to my friend …' It kept coming back to that. Then when he was about to leave Karim said: "What shall I do? Shall I give him your number? Should I give you his number?'

"He was inciting me. He was saying, indirectly: 'You will have to pay.'"

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