Rafael Benitez says his decision to leave Newcastle was due to a lack of trust rather than the financial attraction of China.

Benitez walked out on the Magpies at the end of his contract this summer after three years in charge and took over at Chinese Super League team Dalian Yifang, earning himself a sizeable pay rise.

Newcastle chief executive Lee Charnley said in the matchday programme for the game against Arsenal on Sunday that the Spaniard’s decision was entirely motivated by money.

However, writing in a column for The Athletic, Benitez hit back at the board.

“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,” he said.

“If I was only interested in moving ‘for money’, as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier.

“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.”

Benitez guided Newcastle to 10th and 13th-placed finishes since returning to the Premier League under his stewardship (Nick Potts/PA)

“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.

“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.

“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”

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