Benitez formally left Newcastle United on June 30 when his contract expired. The 59-year-old was offered a one-year contract and £50million transfer budget, but, crucially, owner Ashley, wanted him to have less control over signings.
“I’d like not to talk too much about Newcastle, because we need to move forward,” Benitez told The Mail on Sunday. “But I will say after the meeting in London, it was a clear decision for me. A few days later we told the club that we would not extend the contract.”
The club’s position didn’t change – Ashley was not prepared to negotiate, according to Benitez – and he returned to the training ground last month to clear his desk.
Benitez, now in charge of Dalian Yifang, said: “The only feeling I can have for the Newcastle fans is gratitude.”