The likes of Nani, Bebe, Alexander Buttner and Shinji Kagawa all left in the transfer window and none of their exits came as a real surprise but hearing that Van Gaal was willing to let Rafael leave has come as a shock to many fans.
Prior to Reece James‘ and Marnick Vermijl’s promotion to the first-team squad, Rafael was the only natural right-back in United’s team which is why it is a surprise to hear that Van Gaal was willing to let him leave. United would have been left with Antonio Valencia unless Van Gaal intended to bring in a like-for-like replacement.
Rafael has struggled with injuries this season but his Man of the Match performance against West Ham at the weekend was reminiscent of his 2012/13 form where he was superb on the right flank.
As it transpired, Rafael didn’t leave United and maybe his injury during the pre-season stopped that from potentially happening, but fans were happy to see Rafael back to his best against West Ham.
There’s no question that Rafael’s hot headedness has got United into plenty of trouble over the years but in a system which depends on adventurous full-backs who have the energy to not neglect their defensive duties as well, Rafael ticks all the boxes.
If Van Gaal did indeed tell Rafael he could leave then this season is a defining one for him because if he is unable to impress, there’s every chance Rafael could exit United next summer.