Rafael Benitez appointed manager of Dalian Yifang in China

Rafa Benitez, Newcastle manager, Premier League vs Leicester at King Power Stadium
Image: Rafa Benitez is heading to China

Rafael Benitez has been appointed as manager of Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

The Spaniard's Newcastle contract ended on Sunday, with Benitez saying he and the club's hierarchy had been unable to find a shared vision for the future.

The 59-year-old, who had been courted by other Chinese clubs during his time on Tyneside, was unveiled as Dalian Yifang's new manager on Tuesday after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Benitez has taken his Magpies coaching team - Paco De Miguel, Mikel Antia and Antonio Gomez - with him and added Croatian Darko Matic, who has 10 years' experience as a player in the Super League.

"I have had offers of greater financial significance during my career, but they weren't the project I was looking for," said Benitez.

"What I have found at Dalian is an incredible project that has arrived at the perfect time and this has been a major factor in my decision.

"We've accepted the challenge of leading a superb project with the full backing and confidence of the club's leadership team.

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"This club has all the components that we were looking for to start a new chapter with the maximum motivation."

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Former Newcastle striker Andy Cole believes Benitez exceeded expectations during his time at the club

Benitez wrote an open letter to Newcastle's fans on Monday, saying: "From winning the Championship, to our two seasons in the Premier League, fans, staff and players have all been United.

"I wanted to stay, but I didn't just wait to sign an extended contract, I wanted to be part of a project. Unfortunately, it became increasingly clear to me that those at the top of the club did not share the same vision."

Porto manager Sergio Conceicao is reportedly interested in the Newcastle job, while Nice claim they have received no approach for Patrick Vieira and Jose Mourinho has distanced himself from the speculation.

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