The Brazilian has made 169 appearances for Man United since arriving at Old Trafford with twin brother Fabio in 2008.
However, he has not featured in the first-team since suffering an injury in the FA Cup clash with Yeovil Town at the start of the year.
Rafael recovered from the injury but was left out of the squads to face Sunderland and Newcastle United and has instead been languishing in the U21s.
The 24-year-old is a fans’ favourite at United due to his willingness to take risks and get forward during a game but the Mail reports that van Gaal has sanctioned his exit from the club.
United are rumoured to be looking at alternatives in the position, with Danilo and Nathaniel Clyne linked to United in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Cruzeiro are thought to be keen on bringing Rafael back to his homeland.
For United fans, it’s a sad thought to think Rafael could be leaving the club in the summer. Back in 2011/12, he transformed himself from a rash and reckless defender into one of the league’s most rounded right-backs but thanks to continued injuries, he wasn’t able to build on that.
If Rafael could stay fully fit then he would still be United’s first choice right-back but the fact is so long as Rafael is injury prone, van Gaal is simply unable to rely on him which is why a summer exit is looking likely for the Brazilian.