Rafa Benitez opens up about failed Newcastle takeover and Mike Ashley vision

Rafa Benitez has revealed he decided to leave Newcastle after seeing their proposed takeover fail to materialise, lamenting current owner Mike Ashley’s lack of vision for the club.

The Spaniard departed St James’ Park upon the expiry of his contract last summer after failing to agree terms on an extension with Ashley.

After guiding them to a 13th-place finish with a depleted transfer budget last season, Benitez’s exit sparked fury among Magpies supporters, who were left even more seething when Steve Bruce was named as his successor.

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The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager had grown frustrated with Ashley’s reluctance to spend money in the transfer market, but was given hope of a cash injection when the Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group declared their interest to buy Newcastle.

In the end, though, talk of a takeover on Tyneside fizzled out.

And Benitez has admitted he decided to walk away from the club when it became clear Ashley would be staying put.

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“We had a stage of reflection in Newcastle, because a sale could have occurred and a new project emerged,” he is quoted as saying by Spanish publication AS.

“In Newcastle we were close to home and that change entailed a strong financial commitment.

“But it did not arise and the previous project had shown that it did not want to grow because it had not made the necessary investment.”

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After waving goodbye to the Magpies, Benitez took charge of Chinese Super League Outfit Dalian Yifang and remains in charge today.

The 59-year-old won seven of his first 17 games at the club, but is now being forced to wait for the new season to commence as a result of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

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More than 80,000 people around the world have tested positive for the virus, which started in Chinese city Wuhan.

The new Chinese Super League campaign was due to start on February 22, but the outbreak has forced league officials to delay the launch date until it is controlled.

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“The biggest difficulty we are having is that, because we started planning with the idea to start in February,” Benitez said.

“We usually do six weeks of preseason. But first it coincided with the Chinese New Year in January and when we left for Spain the problems with the virus began. We don't know when the league really starts. It is said that maybe in April.”

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