RAFAEL BENITEZ’S Newcastle United future has become even more uncertain after Chinese club Dalian Yifang offered him a remarkable £12m-a-year to move to the Far East.

Benitez’s current contract on Tyneside is due to expire in 12 days’ time, and while Newcastle officials offered him a new deal in the middle of last month, he continues to refuse to sign up to their terms.

The 59-year-old has rejected approaches from China in the past, as well as turning down alternative offers from the Middle East, but the scale of Dalian Yifang’s latest offer is bound to set alarm bells ringing at St James’ Park.

With potential bonuses added, Benitez would be able to more than double his current salary if he was to move to China, with the Dalian Yifang hierarchy desperate to land a world-class manager to spearhead their attempts to transform their club.

If Benitez was to accept Dalian Yifang, he would become the most highly-paid manager in the history of Chinese football, overtaking Fabio Cannavaro, who is the current boss of Guangzhou Evergrande.

At this stage, Benitez is not believed to have spoken to Dalian Yifang officials, although the Chinese club are known to be attempting to set up a formal round of talks.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley are adamant they will not be holding any more discussions with Benitez and his representatives, with the offer that is currently on the table representing their final deal.

Benitez is understood to have been offered an initial one-year deal, with the shortness of the contract reflecting the ongoing uncertainty about the future ownership of the club.

The Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group continue to claim their takeover attempts are on track, despite a high degree of scepticism about their ability to pull off a deal, while Ashley is also thought to be involved in detailed discussions with at least one more interested party.

However, while a Heads of Terms agreement has been signed with the Bin Zayed Group, a sale to anyone remains some way off.

That has complicated discussions with Benitez, who remains concerned that some of his long-standing worries about Newcastle’s future direction have not been adequately addressed.

Benitez has been seeking clarification about the size of his summer transfer budget, as well as the extent to which he will be able to control the club’s future transfer plans.

Ideally, he would like a much more streamlined transfer process, with a better chain of communication to Ashley. In the past, transfers have stalled while Benitez has waited for a response to a proposal he has put forward.

Benitez is also seeking the green light to sign players with Premier League experience this summer, with Salomon Rondon’s position continuing to cause friction. Benitez wants to sign the Venezuela international permanently this summer, but Ashley is extremely reluctant to sanction a £16.5m move for a player who will turn 30 in September.

As well as pursuing Rondon, Newcastle’s recruitment team have also been preparing the groundwork for a summer move for the striker’s Venezuelan team-mate Jefferson Savarino.

The 22-year-old winger currently plays for Real Salt Lake in the MLS, and having successfully signed Miguel Almiron from the US top-flight, the Magpies’ scouting team are confident Savarino would also be able to handle a move to the Premier League.

The winger, who is valued at around £8m, spent his formative years at Venezuelan club Zulia, before moving to Real Salt Lake in 2017.

Savarino is currently representing Venezuela at the Copa America, and played alongside Rondon as his nation kicked off their campaign with a goalless draw against Peru last weekend.