Rafa Benítez to leave Newcastle at end of month

Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle when his contract expires at the end of the month, the club have announced.

Benitez, 59, has spent just over three years in charge at St James’ Park since replacing Steve McClaren in March 2016.

“It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019,” Newcastle said on their official website.

“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.”

Newcastle confirmed Benitez’s coaching staff, Paco De Miguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez and Mikel Antia, will also leave the club.

“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 Magpies added.

Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley (right) had been tasked by owner Mike Ashley (left) to lead negotiations with Benitez.

“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 has been linked with a possible move to the Far East for over 12 months, with Chinese club Dalian Yifang reported to have offered him a contract worth £12million a year.

But he has made it clear in the recent past that he sees his future in Europe, and ideally in the Premier League.

The club’s situation is further complicated as owner Mike Ashley is in talks with several potential purchasers, including Dubai-based billionaire Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who claimed last month he had “agreed terms” with the Sports Direct magnate.

Former Birmingham boss Garry Monk and Burnley manager Sean Dyche have emerged as the early favourites to succeed Benitez, with Michael Appleton, Slavisa Jokanovic, Gennaro Gattuso and John Terry also high on the bookmakers’ list.

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