Benitez, now manager of Dalian Yifang, left St James’s Park for China and he has now lifted the lid on the real reason why he left, citing a lack of trust in his bosses at NUFC after ‘three years of unfulfilled promises’.
He hit back in a new column for The Athletic after Charnley gave an interview to the matchday programme for the season-opener against Arsenal.
“We understand and expected the disappointment that Rafa’s departure caused,” said Charnley. “We strongly believe we went beyond what could reasonably be asked in order to keep him.
“But, let’s be clear, he moved to China for money. The offer he received was too tempting.”
But Benitez has hit back, stating: “I haven’t wanted to say too much about that — I’ve encouraged supporters to get behind Steve Bruce and his new team — but I’ve been made aware of what Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, claimed in the club’s match programme last weekend and I think it’s important I address that.
“Hopefully, it will be the last time I have to do so. In the future I want to write about football and nothing but football.
“When I joined Newcastle in 2016, I did it with all my heart. I could feel the history and see the potential of the club and I wanted to be part of a project and to stay close to my family on Merseyside.
“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. If I was only interested in moving “for money”, as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier.”
He added: “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 an offer I could accept. 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. Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.
“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. Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time.
“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.
“When we finished 10th in the Premier League in our first season back, all players and staff were paid a bonus — aside from my coaching team. That felt like a punishment for me not signing an extension.
“So, by the end, I knew there would not be a proper offer and they knew I was not signing.”