Rafael Benitez has refuted suggestions he moved to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang for financial reasons and says he left Newcastle United because he could no longer trust the owners.
Newcastle’s managing director, Lee Charnley, said over the weekend that Benitez “moved to China for the money” after the Spaniard left St James’ Park following the expiry of his contract at the end of June.
Magpies owner Mike Ashley accused Benitez of making unrealistic wage demands and went on to name ex-Sunderland manager Steve Bruce as his replacement.
Benitez has reacted strongly to Charnley’s comments, saying that “three years of unfulfilled promises” meant he could no longer trust the club’s hierarchy.
“I tried to do my best every day, even staying when we went down to the Championship and saying no to other offers – bigger offers than the one I recently accepted with Dalian Yifang,” he told The Athletic.
“If I was only interested in moving ‘for money’, as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier. Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me an offer I could accept.
“They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground – if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that.
“Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.
“After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings.
“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”
Benitez also revealed that while players and staff were given a bonus after a 10th-place finish in 2017-18, his coaching team received nothing.
“When we finished 10th in the Premier League in our first season back, all players and staff were paid a bonus – aside from my coaching team. That felt like a punishment for me not signing an extension,” he added.
“So, by the end, I knew there would not be a proper offer and they knew I was not signing.”
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