Rafael Benitez has hit back at Newcastle United’s claims that his motivation for leaving the club was money and insisted his departure was entirely down to the club’s “untrustworthy” board.
The former Liverpool manager ended his three-year stay at St James’ Park at the end of last season after failing to agree a new deal, before promptly accepting a lucrative offer to take over at Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.
Benitez has been silent on the reasons behind is exit but Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley used his programme notes ahead of the club’s season opener against Arsenal to address the issue, claiming the 59-year-old left “for money”.
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But the Spaniard has hit back at those claims in his column in The Athletic to give his version of events.
“I haven’t wanted to say too much about that,” he wrote. “But I’ve been made aware of what Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, claimed in the club’s match programme last weekend and I think it’s important I address that.
“When I joined Newcastle in 2016, I did it with all my heart. I could feel the history and see the potential of the club and I wanted to be part of a project and to stay close to my family on Merseyside.
“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, by the way. 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 a proper offer.
“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.
“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.
“Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time.
“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”
Benitez added that he felt the club punished him and his coaching team financially for not signing a new contract, while the rest of the squad and staff received end-of-season bonuses for finishing 10th.