David Moyes has confirmed that Rafael is not too far away from returning to full fitness which is a real boost for Manchester United.
The 23-year-old has transformed himself over a two year period into one of the best right-backs in the Premier League and he is such an important player that in his absence, United struggle to replace him.
Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia and Fabio have all played at right-back when Rafael has been injured this season but none have been able to offer what he does (with the exception of Fabio who, for whatever reason, Moyes has regularly overlooked), so his return will be a timely one.
“I don’t think Rafa is too far away, though, as his injury isn’t too serious. Hopefully, we’re beginning to get one or two back,” Moyes told MUTV.
Rafael knows how to play as a right-back as it is his natural position and he offers so much going forward without letting it affect his ability to defend. Smalling has improved the more times he plays there but he is far more accomplished as a centre back.
A major reason why Rafael is so important is because of how much better Antonio Valencia plays when he has Rafael behind him at right-back. Their partnership is the best we have on the right-hand side and the threat diminishes in his absence. To be at his best, Valencia needs Rafael.
Also, Moyes has made it clear this season that he loves an overlapping right back so he will be happy to have Rafael available for selection again.
United have had terrible injury troubles this season which has made it difficult to keep a consistent starting XI but hopefully Rafael can soon put his own injury problems behind him and get back to the form he showed last season.