Manchester United right-back Rafael has left all but one of the Red Devils’ summer signings out of his ideal five-a-side team.
The Brazilian included £29 million Ander Herrera alongside himself, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney.
This means no places for Daley Blind, Angel di Maria, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw or even Radamel Falcao - all of whom have cost United a combined £141 million this summer.
Rafael: Smalling is most competitive
Rafael confirmed that he selected Smalling after revealing that the England centre-back is the most competitive Manchester United player in training. This may come as a surprise to United fans, many of whom are still unconvinced about the defender’s overall quality.
Smalling was linked with a move to Arsenal in the summer, but Louis van Gaal was not prepared to use the athletic central defender as a makeweight in a deal to sign Thomas Vermaelen, who eventually joined Barcelona.
Valencia a surprise choice
Valencia is also a surprise pick by Rafael. The Ecuadorian winger has struggled to produce his best form over the past few seasons and should spend the next few weeks watching on from the substitutes bench with Rafael, who impressed against Queens Park Rangers last weekend, now back in action.
Herrera has made a positive start to his Manchester United career, and opened his account for the Red Devils against QPR last Sunday.
The tenacious Spaniard has added some much-needed bite to the 20-time English champions’ midfield - and he will be one of the first names on Louis van Gaal’s team-sheet for this weekend’s visit to Leicester City.
So too will club captain Rooney, who spearheads Rafael’s dream five-a-side line-up. The England skipper was fantastic against QPR last weekend and could start in a new-look attacking line-up alongside Falcao at the King Power Stadium.
Rafael hails Scholes and Giggs
In his interview with United’s official website, Rafael also revealed that club legend Paul Scholes has scored the best goals he has ever witnessed in training - which will come as little surprise to the fans.
“He scored maybe 20 goals that were, you know, wow! Maybe more than 20 like that in training,” the South American said. “Ryan Giggs also scored so many brilliant goals in training.”
United no longer have Giggs or Scholes at their disposal, but optimism amongst the club’s supporters is high following last weekend’s superb performance against QPR.
Now they must prove that result was no flash in the pan by producing the goods against Leicester this weekend.