Rafael outlines Valencia telepathy
Manchester United benefitting from Rafael da Silva-Antonio Valencia relationship
Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva says he has an almost telepathic understanding with Antonio Valencia, and hopes they can further improve their partnership the more regularly they play together.
It is the opinion of many that Valencia has been the 19-time league champions' most influential player this season, and the way he has recovered from an horrific ankle break has been quite remarkable.
The Ecuadorian has, though, benefitted from his relationship both on the and off the pitch with Rafael, with both players allowing the other to perform to their strengths.
The performances of the duo on the right side for United has drawn comparisons to the understanding enjoyed by Gary Neville and David Beckham in their heyday, and Rafael believes off-field bonds pay dividends on the field.
"To be honest, I think it's well recognised by everybody that Antonio has been one of my best friends at the club," the 21-year-old Brazilian full-back told The Mirror.
"That's not to disrespect anyone, but I think we've created a very good understanding on the pitch.
"I can feel what he wants to do and vice-versa, and that's probably the reason why we have so much understanding on the pitch.
"I think it's quite difficult to define Antonio's qualities on the pitch. He's quite fast and direct. He looks for the ball all the time. If I go forward, he covers me at the back and vice-versa.
"It's easy to work with him and, when I see him on the pitch, it leaves me more relaxed due to the understanding we have on the field."
Rafael was forced to miss United's loss against Wigan last week, but has featured prominently for the Red Devils since injury to Chris Smalling.
And, with no obvious first-choice right-back at Old Trafford, Rafael will be hoping his relationship with Valencia will stand him in good stead for next season.