Rafael Benitez has hit back at claims that he only left Newcastle for the money on offer in the Chinese Super League.
The Spaniard joined Dalian Yifang when his contract at St. James' Park expired at the end of June.
Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley wrote in his programme notes for Sunday's game against Arsenal that Benitez chose Dalian over the Magpies because of money.
However, the former Liverpool boss insists he would have left Newcastle a long time ago had that been his motivation.
"When I joined Newcastle in 2016, I did it with all my heart," Bentiez told The Athletic. "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.
"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. 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."
Steve Bruce's Newcastle lost 1-0 to Arsenal in their opening encounter of the 2019/20 season.
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