Former Liverpool and Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez says he made the decision to leave Dalian Professional - a role he has held since June 2019 - partly due to concerns about the health and well-being of his family amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday 23 January 2021 16:13, UK
Rafael Benitez has left his position as manager of Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional by mutual consent.
The Spaniard, 60, had a season remaining on his reported lucrative £12m-a-year contract at the club which he joined in July 2019, shortly after he left Newcastle United.
Benitez says he made the decision partly due to concerns about the health and well-being of his family amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Unfortunately, like so many things in the last year, COVID-19 has changed our lives and our projects. From today, both my coaching staff and I will sadly no longer be coaching Dalian," Benitez said in a statement.
"The pandemic is still here, for all of us, and supporting our families has been a priority when making this decision."
Dalian failed to qualify for the Super League's Championship stage last season, which was affected by the pandemic, finishing seventh in their eight-team group.
However, they secured their top-flight status in the relegation playoffs.
Steve Bruce, who succeeded Benitez at Newcastle, is under pressure after a nine-game run without a victory in all competitions.
Frustrated by constant comparisons to Benitez's popular three-year reign on Tyneside, Bruce said this week: "He was a world-class manager. Where did he finish (10th and 13th)? Is that success?
"We matched the mighty Rafa last year. We are in the bottom half of the Premier League and have been there for the best part of 15 years."