After yet another impressive display by Rafael at QPR last weekend, which saw him score a spectacular opening goal to help Manchester United secure a 2-0 victory, the young right back is cementing his place firmly into the team.
The 22-year-old has been in fine form this season, he has been adding goals and assists to his game as well as improving defensively. Since he arrived as a young boy with his twin brother Fabio - who is currently on loan at QPR - the Brazillian has been full of promise and talent, but question marks have always remained over his defensive ability. This season however, he has been answering his critics.
The tenacious defender is enthusiastic and willing to get stuck in, always giving 100% to the cause. In the past, this has led him into trouble, which has cost his team at crucial times. The sending off against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final in 2010 certainly comes to mind.
To his credit, he has learnt from his mistakes and has developed into a terrific young footballer who is still yet to peak. Competition for the right-back position is fierce at United, as Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are capable players in that position.
Sir Alex Ferguson however seems to have full faith in Rafael and the manager has been rewarded with solid displays as well vital goals, such as against Liverpool.
Defensively, one of his highlights will be the way he managed to contain the attacking threat of Real Madrid, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil. After what seemed like a difficult first half for the Brazilian, he improved in the second and helped The Red Devils to a fantastic result.
The big occasions don't seem to faze the young man as they once did in previous years, which shows the signs of growing maturity and experience he is getting.
Yes, he will still make mistakes, as was the case against Reading earlier on in the season, which led to him being substituted in the first half, but with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra in the dressing room, Rafael will continue to learn and become better defensively.
After being given the number two shirt, worn for so many years by the legendary Gary Neville, Rafael will look to emulate one of United's greatest ever right-backs and enjoy a successful and long career at Old Trafford.
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