Rafael Benitez has announced his departure from Newcastle after his contract expires next Sunday.
The club confirmed his exit in an official statement, saying “It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benítez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019.”
“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.”
Benitez spent three years with the club, getting the Magpies back into the Premier League after being relegated for the 2016/17 season. The team finished 10th and 13th in the Premier League the last two seasons. Benitez’s tenure ends with a 47.96% win rate through 96 games.
The Toon Army expressed their dismay at Newcastle owner Mike Ashley for rejecting Benitez’s demands for more control over transfers. Benitez made his biggest signing in attacking midfielder Miguel Almirón from Atlanta United for £15m last January.
Benitez also wanted Newcastle to invest in the team’s practice facilities to bring it up to standards of the top four.
Fans have long been disappointed in Mike Ashley’s ownership, waiting for him to sell the club to someone focused on reviving the team’s glory days. Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed al-Nahyan has been linked as a potential buyer for £350 million.
Without Benitez’s leadership, Newcastle’s future is once again in limbo. A club that should be pushing for top 6 may now find themselves back in mid-table mediocrity.