Rafael has aimed a dig at Manchester City for failing to promote local talent in the same way as Manchester United over the years.
Jose Mourinho, despite his reputation for having a disdain for youth players, has given chances to Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay this term, alongside bringing back Paul Pogba last season.
Phil Foden, on the other hand, is the only academy player to feature for Man City this season, playing a total of 18 Premier League minutes despite Pep Guardiola’s side wrapping up the title some time ago.
And Rafael, speaking in an excellent interview with ESPN’s Andy Mitten, was quick to point out this difference.
“Of course United buy players, but they also promoted lots of players from the youth system,” he said. “City don’t do this. It’s bad. You have to give opportunities to young players from your city, from your house.”
“Imagine if you have children and you don’t make them go to college. You have to trust your children, to give them a chance, but City obviously think differently.
“Look at the United team now: Jesse [Lingard], Paul [Pogba], Marcus Rashford and others.”
To give homegrown talents a chance to play and prosper in the first team has been a tradition at United even before the Second World War and remains in practice to this very day. It is simply in the club’s DNA like few other things.
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This club has so often benefitted from the extra drive local players give you in big games: Lingard, Rashford and McTominay are the most recent in a line of players such as John O’Shea, Gary Neville, Darren Fletcher and Nicky Butt. That sense of nous, of true fighting spirit. You cannot buy that.
There is always something to be said for using players who have grown up dreaming of wearing the shirt. And no club – no major club, that’s for sure – does this more than United.