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Rafa Benitez to leave Newcastle as talks over new contract collapse

The Spaniard had been in charge at St James’ Park for three years.

Benitez leaves Tyneside after three years.
Benitez leaves Tyneside after three years.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

NEWCASTLE UNITED HAVE announced ‘with disappointment’ that contract negotiations with Rafa Benitez have stalled and the Spaniard will leave his position as manager this month.

“We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time, however it has not been — and will not be — possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives,” a club statement read this afternoon.

Newcastle had hoped to tie Benitez down to a new contract at St James’ Park heading into the 2019/20 season, but talks have been unsuccessful and he will depart after three years in charge.

The 59-year-old guided Newcastle to a 13th-place finish in the Premier League last season.

“We would like to thank Rafa and his coaching team for their efforts over the last three years and their significant contribution to what has been collectively achieved,” the statement added.

“We would also like to thank our supporters, players and staff for their patience during a period of uncertainty.

“The process to appoint a successor will now begin.”

Despite failing to keep Newcastle in the top flight shortly after taking over, Benitez earned hero status on Tyneside as he led Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and then stabilised the club by finishing 10th and 13th in the last two seasons.

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League - St James' Park Benitez had become a fan's favourite on Tyneside. Source: Owen Humphreys

However, the Spaniard did not hide his displeasure at the lack of backing he was afforded by Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and was believed to be seeking assurances over the budget he would have to work with before committing his future to the club. 

Benitez has been linked with a move to manage Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, with the favourite to replace him on Tyneside being Garry Monk, who was sacked by Birmingham earlier this month. 

Burnley manager Sean Dyche has also been named as a potential replacement for Benitez, with former Newcastle man Chris Hughton also reportedly in the running.

Newcastle are currently subject of takeover interest from Sheikh Khaled and the Bin Zayed Group, but fans had been hopeful of keeping Benitez at the club regardless of the current situation with the owners.  

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Ryan Bailey

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