Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle when his contract expires at the end of the month, the club have announced.

Benitez, 59, has spent just over three years in charge at St James’ Park since replacing Steve McClaren in March 2016.

“It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benítez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019,” Newcastle said on their official website.

Rafael Benitez's record in English football
Rafael Benitez’s record in English football (PA Graphic)

“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.”

Newcastle confirmed Benitez’s coaching staff, Paco de Miguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez and Mikel Antia, will also leave the club.

“We would like to thank Rafa and his coaching team for their efforts over the last three years and their significant contribution to what has been collectively achieved,” the Magpies added.

“We would also like to thank our supporters, players and staff for their patience during a period of uncertainty.

“The process to appoint a successor will now begin.”

Speculation over Benitez’s future has been gathering momentum for the past 12 months, with no signs of an agreement between the Spaniard and the club.

Newcastle made Benitez a new offer, but were unable to give the former Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss certain assurances.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, pictured, was unable to reach an agreement with Benitez
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, pictured, was unable to reach an agreement with Benitez (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Benitez wanted greater control of Newcastle’s recruitment process, including the freedom to sign the players he wanted regardless of their age or potential resale value.

The Spaniard guided Newcastle back to the Premier League in 2017 and has kept them in the top flight for the past two seasons.

Benitez has been linked with a possible move to the Far East for over 12 months, with Chinese club Dalian Yifang reported to have offered him a contract worth £12million a year.

But he has made it clear in the recent past that he sees his future in Europe, and ideally in the Premier League.

The club’s situation is further complicated as owner Mike Ashley is in talks with several potential purchasers, including Dubai-based billionaire Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who claimed last month he had “agreed terms” with the Sports Direct magnate.

Former Birmingham boss Garry Monk and Burnley manager Sean Dyche have emerged as the early favourites to succeed Benitez, with Michael Appleton, Slavisa Jokanovic, Gennaro Gattuso and John Terry also high on the bookmakers’ list.