Rafael joins Olympique Lyonnaise

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Rafael da Silva has swapped England for France as he leaves Manchester United for Olympique Lyonnaise.

The right-back joins the Ligue 1 runners-up on a four-year deal, and has opted for the number 20 shirt due to the number of titles United have won, which is a nice gesture on his part.

The Brazilian joined United with twin brother Fabio, now of Cardiff City, from Fluminese in 2008, when the pair were just 18.

Early promise and potential for Rafa was plagued by injuries, and he failed to seriously nail down the right-back position during his seven year stay in the North West.

He had a productive campaign in 2012/13 when he was first handed the number two jersey, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure that summer left Rafael’s Old Trafford career in jeopardy, with neither David Moyes or Louis van Gaal the biggest of admirers of the marauding full-back.

Despite not scoring many goals, the ones where he did find the back of the net were ones to savour, including his left foot volley at the Emirates Stadium, left foot curler at Anfield, and thunderous strike into the top corner away at QPR.

His work rate, enthusiasm, energy, keenness, attitude and attacking qualities stand out, but his defensive mishaps and rashness at the back proved costly at times.

With Antonio Valencia being a winger by trade and his mistake leading to United being knocked out of the FA Cup against Arsenal back in March, many called for Rafael to be reinstated to the first team after returning from injury and scoring a screamer the following day against Tottenham in an U21 clash.

This wasn’t to be, however, and the arrival of Matteo Darmian from Torino last month led to Rafael being excluded from United’s touring party to the U.S.

His departure from the club is now confirmed, and we wish him all the best with his future, knowing he always gave his all for the badge of United.

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