Real Madrid's Karim Benzema

Two associates of scandal-dogged Real Madrid star Karim Benzema were charged by French police on Thursday over suspected extortion, sources close to the case told AFP.

Police charged a 29-year-old man with “attempted extortion” and 22-year-old woman with colluding in the bid, following the arrest on Tuesday of three people suspected of being involved in the affair.

A second man was released without charge.

The arrests and charges follow a complaint by a former friend of Benzema, named as Leo D., who alleges the accused tried to kidnap him in Paris over a financial dispute with Benzema.

Investigators said the row centred on 50,000 euros ($56,663) in cash destined for Benzema via a sponsor.

Leo D. was tasked with bringing the sum to France from Morocco but claims he was stopped by customs officials in the North African country, who seized the money.

Benzema, 30, was not selected by Didier Deschamps for France’s World Cup winning squad and has not figured for his country since he was charged for his alleged role in the blackmail of former fellow international Mathieu Valbuena in 2015.

Benzema is awaiting a ruling from a Paris court on whether he has a case to answer in the long-running Valbuena “sex-tape” affair.

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