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Rafael Benitez explains why he signed for Dalian Yifang

Would Benitez consider China?
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Rafael Benitez revealed money wasn’t a factor in his surprise decision to join Chinese club Dalian Yifang as he has received better financial offers in the past.

Just two days after officially leaving Newcastle United, Benitez signed a two-and-a-half-year contract to take charge of Dalian Yifang on Tuesday. He will earn a reported £12m a year as part of his deal.

For someone of a CV like Benitez’s, however, the idea of him heading to China caught many by surprise. The Spaniard’s previously coached the likes Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Liverpool.

One possible factor for the Madrid native’s decision could be down to money, with former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan being particularly vocal on this theory.

But Benitez has downplayed these suggestions and revealed that Dalian Yifang’s plans were what convinced him.

“I have had offers of greater financial significance during my career, but they weren’t the project I was looking for,” said Benítez on his official website.

“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.

“Over the last years many players and coaches I know have arrived in China, so I have been able to follow the Super League as much as possible.

“It’s a competition with its unique qualities so we will have to know how to adapt, but our path forward is clear. Dalian Yifang is a historic club in one of the most football passionate cities in the country, so this is an added attraction.”

Benitez will make his debut in the Dalian Yifang dugout on Sunday for a league match against Hernan Jianye.

Currently, the Spaniard’s new club are 10th in the Chinese Super League (CSL) table after 15 matches.