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Rafael Benítez warns clubs after leaving work in China

  • The pandemic of Covid-19 was cited as the reason for the exit from Dalian Pro
  • Under strain, Spaniard Steve Bruce's Newcastle successor

Rafa Benítez quit the Dalian Pro side of the Chinese Super League, saying the Covid-19 pandemic was a factor in his decision.

After he left Newcastle United in 2019, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid head coach was hired on a lucrative deal worth an estimated £ 12m per year.

"Unfortunately, Covid-19 has changed our lives and our projects, like so many things in the past year," Benítez wrote on his personal website. Unfortunately, from today, both my coaching staff and I will not be coaching Dalian Professional FC anymore.

It was an unforgettable experience and I would like to thank all my employees, coaches, medical and club staff as well as our players for this; their loyalty to us in the first place, their support during the time we were there, and their effort was amazing. For both of us, the pandemic is still here, and the love of our families was a concern when making this decision.

It seems likely that at a time when his Newcastle successor, Steve Bruce, is coming under - scrutiny, Benítez will find himself associated with a return to the Premier League.

Frustrated by his famous predecessor's comparisons, Bruce said this week: "He was a world-class manager." Where [10th and 13th] did he finish? This is success? Last year we matched the mighty Rafa. We're in the bottom half of the Premier League, and for the better part of 15 years, we've been there.

Dalian struggled last season to qualify for the Championship stage of the Super League, which was affected by the pandemic, finishing seventh in their eight-team division. But in the relegation play-offs, they won top-flight status.

"Benítez said he hoped to leave behind a vision for the club to build on: "I am confident that we have left a framework and a methodology that will make it possible to effectively move forward with the project. The first team has been rejuvenated and, from the grassroots schools to the top, the foundations have been laid for the future.

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Rafa Benítez during last year's Dalian Pro game.