Rafael Benitez moved to China “for money” despite Newcastle United going above and beyond to retain his services, according to the club’s managing director.
Lee Charnley, who has held his position since April 2014, described Benitez’s motivations as “clear” after the Spaniard left St James’ Park following the expiry of his contract at the end of June.
The popular former Liverpool boss took charge at Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang the day after claiming “those at the top” did not share his vision for Newcastle.
Magpies owner Mike Ashley accused Benitez of making unrealistic wage demands and went on to name ex-Sunderland manager Steve Bruce as his replacement, an appointment met with a degree of dissatisfaction on Tyneside.
“We understand and expected the disappointment that Rafa’s departure caused,” Charnley wrote in Newcastle’s matchday programme ahead of Sunday’s game against Arsenal.
“We strongly believe we went beyond what could reasonably be asked in order to keep him. But let’s be clear, he moved to China for money.
“The offer he received was too tempting. We understand that and there is nothing wrong with that. It was not something we could compete against. We wish him well for the future and thank him for all he achieved.”
Making another apparent dig at Benitez, Charnley added: “What we have now in Steve Bruce is someone who genuinely cares.”
Benitez, who made clear his frustration with what he perceived to be a lack of ambition at the club, used his official website to offer a message of support to Newcastle on Sunday, writing: “At the start of the Premier League season, I would like to wish Steve Bruce, all the players and the fans good luck.”
Arsenal’s visit in the Premier League marks Bruce’s first competitive match in charge of Newcastle. The 58-year-old left his post at Sheffield Wednesday to take up the position.
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