Whether Manchester United play in a 4-4-2 diamond or a 5-3-2 under Louis van Gaal, there is one position which remains crucial – the full-back spots.
It is where width is created, overlapping runs are made and in the make-up of United attacking, it’s so important. With that in mind, the potential return of Rafael is tantalising.
Antonio Valencia filled in well at right-back but he doesn’t have the same sort of forward drive that Rafael does. If there’s one thing the little Brazilian has in abundance, it is a natural drive to attack.
What Rafael showed in games prior to his injury was his best form, swashbuckling down the right yet having the nous and fitness to make sure defensive duties weren’t ignored.
In this potential 4-4-2, we’ve put Juan Mata in the No.10 role behind Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie because the natural width of Rafael would allow Mata to focus exclusively on attacking through the middle which is where his greatest strengths lie.