Louis van Gaal’s less-than-magnificent list of seven players set to leave Manchester United this summer has been ‘revealed’ by a number of tabloid journos close to the club.
Five members of this group will come as no surprise, as it has been clear since the ‘Iron Tulip’ took over at Old Trafford that Marouane Fellaini, Javier Hernandez, Nani and Wilfried Zaha weren’t in his plans, whereas Anderson is merely an afterthought after coming back from a loan spell at Fiorentina.
Suggestions that 21-year-old striker Will Keane appears on Van Gaal’s hitlist are something of a surprise, although the Stockport man couldn’t manage to find the net in 14 Championship appearances on loan at Wigan and QPR last term.
The most disappointing news for United fans will be the inclusion of Brazil right-back Rafael da Silva, who played 40 times in all competitions during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final, Premier League-winning campaign in 2012/13, scoring three times in the top flight.
Had he not been injured for most of December 2012 it’s entirely possible that the Rio de Janeiro native would have pipped Pablo Zabaleta for the right-back spot in the PFA team of season, but unfortunately staying fit and keeping cool have always been Rafael’s problem.
The 24-year-old’s dreadful record of absences since he made his Old Trafford debut in 2008 is the only logical reason for his potential axing.
Rafael’s 28 Premier League appearances in 2012/13 outstripped his joint-most prominent in top-flight campaigns up to that point by 12 matches, and a fiery temper has seen the twice-capped Canarinho pick up 33 yellow cards and three reds in 158 matches.
Worries over the flyer’s defensive prowess, which have always seemed wide of the mark, wouldn’t come into question in Van Gaal’s 3-4-2-1 formation as he would be given more licence to bomb forward as he wishes.
It seems the former Fluminense youth won’t have too many more chances to terrorise opposition left-backs at the Theatre of Dreams, but Arsenal shouldn’t be squeamish about targeting one of their rivals’ cast-offs.
Judging from the Gunners’ impressive 3-0 Community Shield win over Manchester City, new signing Calum Chambers will be used largely as a centre-half now Thomas Vermaelen has left for Barcelona, while Bacary Sagna’s right-back replacement Mathieu Debuchy will be 30 by his next birthday.
Coach Arsene Wenger would expect to pick up Rafael for a relative pittance if he’s no part of Van Gaal’s plans, and could certainly use the cover with Carl Jenkinson shipped out on loan to West Ham.
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