Ex-Celtic managerial 'target' Rafa Benitez has opened up on his departure from Newcastle - explaining how he didn't trust club chiefs towards the end of his reign.

Benitez was in charge at St James' Park for three years but recently departed for Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League.

The Spaniard was disappointed that Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley took to his club's match programme ahead of Sunday's league opener against Arsenal to reveal the boss left "for money".

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez slaughtered Robbie Keane's movement despite two goal starring show in Liverpool win

And Benitez set the record straight over the claims - insisting in actuality he felt "punished" for not signing a new deal in England despite being offered less cash and not being handed a strong enough budget to compete.

Speaking in his new column for The Athletic, Champions League winner Rafa said: "Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me a proper offer. 

"They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground — if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that. 

"Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.

"After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings. 

"After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez consulted ex-Rangers scout Frank McParland over possible Celtic move before deciding against it

"When we finished 10th in the Premier League in our first season back, all players and staff were paid a bonus — aside from my coaching team. 

"That felt like a punishment for me not signing an extension."

Benitez emerged as favourite for the Celtic job before Neil Lennon took over as permanent manager at Parkhead following his completion of the treble Treble.

When asked by STV if he was interested in the role at the time, Benitez explained he had decided against taking the job - though he'd consider it in the future.