“My ambition hasn’t changed,” Rafa Benitez told The Times in a recent interview. “I want to compete. I want to win.” Many are questioning that assertion after the Spanish manager was announced as the new head coach at Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang on Tuesday. The club have won just four times in 15 games this season and are closer to the relegation battle than the top of the table. Benitez was out of work for just one day after his contract expired with English Premier League side Newcastle United on Sunday night but it has come as a surprise to many that he has taken a job in China. He has rejected offers from CSL sides in the past, including Guangzhou Evergrande. “I received offers in the past from teams in China but it was not the right time,” he told The Times . Dalian Yifang officially announced that Rafa Benitez is now the head coach of the club, which is backed by the real estate tycoon Wang Jianlin, who is among the 10 richest in China. His Wanda Group is a former shareholder of Atlético Madrid and an official partner of FIFA. pic.twitter.com/lcPyTtFbAr — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) July 2, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> It’s interesting that now is the right time as he had recently expressed his reservations about Newcastle travelling to China for their preseason tour this month. One of those previously snubbed advances was from Dalian, Benitez said. “It was three years ago I said no, but you have to think about you and your staff and the opportunities,” he told The Times . “I have to think about my people, my staff, as well as my own future.” His future is secured by all accounts. It has been reported that his move to China has made him the second highest paid manager in the world, doubling his Newcastle salary. OFFICIAL: Dalian Yifang announced that Rafael Benitez is the new head coach of their first team. pic.twitter.com/qBV4DMxBcy — TransferMarkt China (@asaikana) July 2, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> No one can begrudge him what he has called “good money”, but aside from that, what is his motivation? It’s not just about the money, he said. He wants to build something in China. “You can see a massive project here,” he said in his opening press conference. Benitez also spoke of “a great challenge” and wanting to “leave a legacy for Dalian”. He has every opportunity to do that, because the only way is up for the CSL strugglers. Rafa Benitez becomes the 3rd ex-Real Madrid coach to take charge of Dalian Yifang. Juan Ramón López Caro was snubbed after leading the team to get promoted to CSL in 2017 . Bernd Schuster pulled them out of relegation zone last year but he was seemingly unpopular in the club. pic.twitter.com/MQe5PGeUuv — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) July 2, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> The club are 10th with half of the season gone, 22 points off the top, and they have made more headlines off the pitch than on it. Benitez should be used to that from his time on Tyneside. Despite not having a shared “vision” with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley – the reason Benitez stated for his departure – the coach left the club revered by the fans. Many of them thought he could walk on the Tyne given the miracles he worked under the financial constraints of Ashley’s ownership. He’ll have different constraints in China, one of the only places in the world he could have gone to that might be even more schizophrenic than Newcastle United. There are similarities. These are two towns in the north east of their countries, historically built on shipbuilding and seen as football heartlands. They also share a disappointing football team defined by long past glories. Billionaire owner Wang Jianlin, one of the richest men in China, won’t clutch the purse strings like Ashley, but Benitez enters a club that is struggling. Rafa Benitez's new coaching staff in Dalian Yifang will be consisted of Paco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez & Mikel Antia, his old partners in England. The 4th assistant will be Darko Matić, a Croatian who speaks fluent Mandarin after playing for 3 CSL clubs for 10 years. pic.twitter.com/p1QjbBwggB — Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) July 2, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> “If we are winning, it will be fine,” Benitez said. “You will say that I am right.” Time will tell, but the question is whether he will get the time. Benitez might be a huge appointment, one of the biggest names to move to China, but his predecessors in the Dalian dugout have not lasted long. Choi Kang-hee walked away this week citing “personal reasons” after five months. Being former Real Madrid managers like Benitez did not help Bernd Schuster or Juan Roman Lopez Caro, who lasted barely a year each, with Ma Lin’s six-month stay in between. This is the country where fans of league leaders Beijing Guoan called for their manager’s head after losing their first game of the season at the weekend. If Benitez is to build a legacy, he needs to arrest that trend. He also needs to arrest their league form – four wins in 15 games – and get his foreign players to perform. After a long path... We start a new challenge! I´m happy to begin this new project with Dalian Yifang. #ChinaSuperleague #China #DalianYifang #NewChallenge #NewChapter pic.twitter.com/YLwd46bpjh — Rafa Benitez Web (@rafabenitezweb) July 2, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> He reunites with Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik, who he coached at Napoli, but the bigger issue is wantaway Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco , a player who was suspended by former boss Choi and has fallen out with teammates. While it seems an odd move for Benitez, it is a great move for Dalian Yifang. He’s one of the highest-rated managers in world football and at 59 should have a long future ahead of him, if they keep him around. Not that he is under any illusions that it will be easy. “We are coming to a new country, a new culture and we will need help,” he said. There are many in Europe that think moving to China was a cry for help in itself.