According to the Daily Mail, Rafa Benitez has told friends that he would have stayed at Newcastle for ‘at least another year’ had he felt able to trust the NUFC owner – playing down Mike Ashley’s new claims that he was always leaving for China.
This arrives after Mike Ashley’s one-sided statement was released on Saturday night, which saw him claim that Rafa Benitez was ‘impossible’ to keep, suggesting his head was turned as soon as he received a big money offer from Dalian Yifang.
That said, the Mail claim that sources close to Rafa insist that he asked for a salary increase of £2m during contract talks – not the ‘50% increase’ as claimed by Ashley.
Here’s a snippet from Rob Draper’s new piece for the Mail, revealing what Rafa Benitez is believed to have told friends following Mike Ashleys ‘interview’ over the weekend:
“Rafa Benitez has insisted to friends that he would have stayed at Newcastle for at least a year had he felt able to trust the board, despite claims to the contrary by club owner Mike Ashley on Saturday in the Daily Mail.
Ashley’s accounts of events do not differ much from Benitez’s, as previously relayed to The Mail on Sunday, although their interpretations of those events are at odds with each other.
Benitez would absolutely insist that he didn’t choose to join Chinese club Dalian Yifang for the money, as Ashley has said, though he has never hidden the fact that he is earning considerably more there than he could have ever done at Newcastle.
But Benitez was always insistent that his preferred option was to remain in England, if possible with Newcastle, while Ashley has now claimed he was always set on China.
Ashley has said Benitez asked for a 50 per cent pay rise, to which he knew Newcastle couldn’t agree.
Sources close to Benitez have already confirmed he asked for a £8million basic salary, an increase of £2m.
The discrepancy possibly comes in the form of bonuses, which could have seen his suggested salary rise above £9m.“
Some will question why Rafa was asking for a pay rise if it wasn’t about the money, but surely this is common practice when a world class manager does his job well?
That said, I feel anyone that questions whether Rafa Benitez was in it for the wrong reasons has quickly forgotten the fact he stayed when we were relegated and continued to fight a losing battle against Mike Ashley as he battled to keep us afloat in the Premier League over the past few years (despite the fact he wanted to see us battling for 7th – not safety).
This is an honourable man who stood by us when others wouldn’t, up against the claims of a proven lier and master manipulator who has torn this club apart over the past 12 years.
I know who I believe..