French footballer Karim Benzema could face preliminary charges as part of a blackmail investigation over a sex tape involving another player.

A judicial source said Benzema will be taken before a judge later on Thursday after being held overnight by police for questioning.

The judge will decide whether the Real Madrid striker should be charged.

Investigators are trying to find out if he played a role in the extortion attempt targeting fellow French international Mathieu Valbuena, and if he tried to blackmail the Lyon player.

Three people have been handed preliminary charges over the case since October.

A judge will decide whether Benzema should be charged or regarded as an “assisted witness”, which in French law means he has not been formally charged but could be in the course of the investigation.

Benzema spent about 24 hours in custody at a police station in Versailles after being summoned on Wednesday morning in the city on the western edge of Paris.

In the same case, former France international Djibril Cisse was briefly detained last month after being suspected of conspiracy to blackmail, a charge with a maximum prison sentence of five years. The ex-Liverpool, Sunderland and QPR striker, who has since retired from football, was released without seeing a judge.

Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, said his client contacted the judge in charge of the case as soon as his name was mentioned in the media last month to let him know he was willing to answer questions from detectives.

“He wants to put an end as soon as possible to this controversy that rose from a case he did not take part in,” Mr Cormier said.

The case started earlier this year when Valbuena decided to take legal action after being contacted by a man claiming to be in possession of an incriminating sex tape he would exchange for money.

It is not the first time Benzema has faced problems off the field.

Five years ago, preliminary charges were filed against Franck Ribery and Benzema for soliciting an under-age prostitute. Both players were questioned as part of a probe into a suspected network of prostitutes that operated out of a nightclub on Paris’s Champs-Elysees. The case lasted three years before they were acquitted.

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