Former Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez leaves Chinese Super League side Dalian Pro amid ‘fears over Covid-19 impact in the Far East’
The former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss was hired on a lucrative contract worth a reported £12million per year after he left Newcastle United in 2019.
Former Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has left his spell at Chinese side Dalian Pro
He has informed them that he has no intention of heading back, with talks now focused on his severance package.
‘Unfortunately, like so many things in the last year, COVID-19 has changed our lives and our projects. From today, both my coaching staff and I will sadly no longer be coaching Dalian,’ Benitez said in a statement.
‘The pandemic is still here, for all of us, and supporting our families has been a priority when making this decision.’
However, despite the split there appears to be no animosity between the parties and the Spanish boss is even willing to help the Super League side choose his successor.
Benitez joined the Chinese side following a three-year spell in charge at St James’ Park
Benitez joined Dalian in 2019 after departing St James’ Park following a three-year-spell, where he is extremely popular with supporters having steered the club back into the Premier League and established them in the top flight again, despite working with limited resources under owner Mike Ashley.
It is understood that Benitez was enjoying his role in China having helped develop the club’s training ground and academy, and was part of the set-up operating under a bubble once top flight football resumed in the country after the outbreak.
Dalian though had failed to qualify for the Super League’s Championship stage last season, which was affected by the pandemic, finishing seventh in their eight-team group. But they secured their top flight status in the relegation playoffs.
Benitez said he hoped he had left behind a vision for the club to build on.
‘I’m convinced we have left a structure and a methodology that will allow the project to go ahead successfully,’ the 60-year-old said.
Benitez built a strong bond with Toon supporters with whom he became a popular figure
‘The first team has been rejuvenated and the foundations have been laid for the future, from the grassroots schools to the top.’
Reports though suggest a 28-quarantine could be enacted on those entering the country over fears of a new outbreak and Benitez fears further drastic measures could hinder his ability to move around, risking splitting him from his family even more.
Although the news comes during a time when his Newcastle successor Steve Bruce is under pressure at St James’ Park, it is not though that his departure is related to a potential return to the club.