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'I wanted to stay but the club did not share the same vision' - Benitez explains reasons for Newcastle exit

2:26 AM EDT 7/1/19
Rafael Benitez Newcastle United Premier League 2019
The 59-year-old has spoken out after his three-and-a-half-year tenure at St James' Park came to an abrupt end over the weekend

Departing Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has, in a farewell message to supporters on Monday morning, claimed that he "wanted to stay" but the club "did not share his vision".

The Spaniard left St James' Park upon the expiration of his contract on June 30, after guiding the Magpies to a 13th place finish in the Premier League last season.

Newcastle released an official statement last week which read: "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 has finally broken his silence following his exit, insisting that creative differences between himself and the board led to his final decision.

"Thank you to everyone at the Club who has helped the team and of course to the fine players who grew and fought with us and to the staff (one of the best I have ever shared time with)," he began.

"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 want 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.

"I’m very sad about that, but I do not regret for one moment my decision to come to Tyneside and I’m very proud of what we achieved together.

"I will always have you in my heart. Best of luck for the future. C’mon Toons!’"

The former Real Madrid and Liverpool head coach took the managerial reigns at Newcastle in March 2016 but was unable to prevent the club's relegation to the second tier of English football.

Benitez did, however, mastermind an instant return to the Premier League for the Magpies, winning the Championship title in his first full season in charge.

Newcastle then earned a 10th place finish in the top flight at the end of the 2017-18 campaign and despite a lack of transfer funds, the Spanish tactician was able to consolidate their position last term.

The search for Benitez's successor has already begun and talks over a possible takeover with United Arab Emirates billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan's investment group remain ongoing.