Rafa Benitez has given his side of the story surrounding his departure from Newcastle United, disputing claims that he left the club 'just for money'.
The Spaniard walked away from Newcastle after his contract expired this summer and took up a lucrative role with Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, prompting the Magpies to replace him with Steve Bruce.
Writing in the matchday programme for Newcastle's meeting with Arsenal (via the Newcastle Chronicle), managing director Lee Charnley insisted that Benitez was only interested in money. Now, writing for The Athletic, Benitez has disputed such claims.
Benitez wrote: "
"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.
"Over my long career, and especially in my time at Newcastle, I’ve always shown commitment to my club, its city and its community and I’ve done it with professionalism and honesty. I want to remember the good moments I spent in the north-east — and there were many of them — and not have to keep denying things about my time there or about my departure.
"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.
"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 ten.
"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.