NEWCASTLE announced Rafa Benitez’s departure – without even speaking to the Spaniard.
The Toon yesterday released a statement confirming their boss would leave when his contract expires on Sunday.
But SunSport understands Benitez had no idea that press release was coming – and hoped Newcastle would make a renewed attempt to keep him this week.
He is now seriously considering taking up a £12million-a-year offer to manage Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.
While Newcastle finally pulled the plug on Benitez yesterday so they could start their search for his successor.
Toon owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley had offered their chief a one-year extension on the same £6m-a-year salary plus bonuses after meeting him in London on May 17.
But communication had completely broken down since then, with Benitez claiming not to have received answers to questions his representatives put to the club.
He had concerns regarding recruitment – particularly the policy and wage structure – and also wanted improvements to the infrastructure.
But a compromise could not be met with the club, who gave up on keeping Benitez at the weekend after trying to tie him down for 18 months.
A Newcastle statement read: “It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on June 30.
“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.
“Rafa’s coaching staff – Paco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gómez Pérez and Mikel Antia – will also leave the club on June 30.
“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.
“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 joined Newcastle in March 2016 and, after initially failing to keep them up, won promotion at the first attempt and then finished tenth and 13th in the Premier League.
He will now speak to Dalian Yifang because of the money on offer – even though his preference has always been to stay in England,
Newcastle striker Ayoze Perez tweeted: “Thank you Rafa for all these years at Newcastle and good luck in the future! You are a top manager.”
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The Toon are now looking for a replacement before their first-team squad returns for pre-season training on Thursday week.
But their task will be tricky because of the uncertainty over the club’s ownership, with Ashley in talks to sell to Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Any new boss would want a pay-out provision written into their contract to give them some security should a takeover take place.