Newcastle United Confirm That Rafa Benitez Is Leaving The Club
Newcastle United have confirmed that Rafa Benitez will leave his position as manager when his contract ends at the end of the week.
Benitez has been at St James' Park for over three years, helping the club gain promotion back to the Premier League and keeping them there, but with contract due to expire it looked likely he would leave.
In a statement the club confirmed the news that he will leave, saying, "It is with disappointment we announce Rafael Benítez will leave NUFC upon expiry of his contract. We have worked hard to extend Rafa's contract over a period of time, however it has not been, and will not be, possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives.
"Rafa's coaching staff, Paco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gómez Pérez and Mikel Antia, will also leave the club on 30th June.
"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.
"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."
Benitez moved to Newcastle in March 2016, just months after he'd been sacked by Real Madrid, with the club in the relegation zone and looking likely to go down.
He couldn't keep them up but the Spaniard decided to stick with the north east club and won promotion back to the top tier in the first season back in the Championship.
With a limited budget in the last two seasons the 59-year-old has led the club to 10th and 13th in the league.
Mike Ashley has been hoping to sell the club in recent years and a few potential deals have fallen through, with the Sports Direct owner reluctant to spend money on transfers whilst trying to sell the club.
Last month there were reports that Ashley had agreed to sell to United Arab Emirates based businessman Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan but talk of the takeover has gone quiet since.
Benitez has reportedly had offers of £12 million-a-year from Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang but there's no confirmation that will be his next destination.
Who should Newcastle appoint next?