Rafael set to leave Manchester United after falling out of favour

Of the final Manchester United team selected by Sir Alex Ferguson, in May 2013 at West Bromwich Albion, only two are expected to be in the starting XI against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Louis van Gaal has indicated that Michael Carrick and Phil Jones will be in the lineup. Anders Lindegaard, Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez are still at the club. David De Gea, who didn't play against West Brom but was No. 1 for Ferguson's last season, is still at the club, too, but for how long?

Rafael da Silva did not play that day at The Hawthorns but did make 40 appearances in Ferguson's last season. Two years on, the full-back is set to join Lyon in a £2.1 million deal.

It seems a low fee for a player who has played 170 Manchester United games and who only turned 25 last month, but transfer fees for players considered to be of diminishing stock are more about what the players earn than what the player is worth. United's first-teamers are on good money, and few suitors can afford to match their wages.

United spotted 15-year-old Rafael and his twin brother, Fabio, when both were playing in a youth team tournament in Hong Kong. Rafael made his debut in 2008 -- months after United eliminated Lyon en route to winning the European Cup -- having just turned 18.

A Botafogo fan who used to get a bus to see his team play, he was popular with United fans. He was also one of the players who seemed to come to life against Liverpool in recent times, with the highlight being a curling left-footed goal that bounced in off the post at Anfield in September 2012.

A few months later, days after scoring a superb goal at QPR, Rafael was United's best player in a Champions League game at Old Trafford against Real Madrid.

Though errors weren't completely eliminated from the defender's game, such as bookings for fouls on the left wing when he was supposed to be playing at right-back, Rafael's confidence was up in 2012-13.

He looked a different player from the one who, on New Year's Eve 2011, had bizarrely been deployed in central midfield -- ahead of Paul Pogba -- in a surprise defeat to bottom-of-the-table Blackburn Rovers

That was hardly the player's fault but Rafael was guilty of errors that led to crucial goals late in the 2011-12 campaign, the most notable of which was scored by Everton's Nicola Jelavic. A match in which United had led 3-1 and 4-2 finished 4-4 and many in the Old Trafford dressing room thought that it cost United the Premier League title.

Ferguson was wise enough to realise that young footballers commit errors and his faith paid off the following season, as Rafael found consistency in defence and attack. He was perfect for a top team like United.

Ferguson also knew that Rafael and Fabio were social conveners for United's Portuguese speakers. The likes Cristiano Ronaldo, Anderson and Nani all gravitated to Casa Da Silva in Cheshire to enjoy fejoada -- Brazilian black beans with smoked meats and rice.

The Da Silva twins' house in Brazil, where they would spend summers, has its own football pitch and stages 11-a-side games every night. Ferguson could influence and enforce in Manchester, but he struggled to stop the twins doing what they loved in Petropolis, their hilly home city just north of Rio de Janeiro. The manager reassured himself that an addiction to football was better than to other vices.

Ferguson's departure didn't help Rafael and he admitted at being in "shock" when he heard the news. New manager David Moyes tried to sign right-back Seamus Coleman from his former club Everton but, while the Irishman was inclined to join United, he wasn't prepared to push for a transfer and his club weren't willing to sell him.

So Rafael stayed, knowing his manager was looking for a replacement. He wasn't one of the big-name players who entered into a power struggle with Moyes which resulted in those on both sides losing and departing. However, he didn't always see eye-to-eye with the manager and matters came to a head in the dressing room after a game against Fulham in February 2014.

People at the club said Rafael wasn't the same after his brother left. Fabio, who started the 2011 Champions League final, joined QPR on loan in 2012-13 before moving permanently to Cardiff in January 2014.

Rafael started only 18 league games in 2013-14 and the Brazilian, who idolised fellow countryman such as Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Juliano Belletti, didn't see his fortunes improve when Van Gaal arrived.

For the Dutchman, precise positioning is everything, like players in a table football match and that was never going to suit Rafael's style. The marauding right-back had stopped marauding.

In August 2014, Rafael was told he would be allowed to leave but he stayed and started only six league games. One of those was United's 5-3 capitulation at Leicester after which he was criticised by his manager, though he could bemoan a soft decision which saw him concede a penalty. Rafael recovered and was excellent against West Ham but that was a rare high in a frustrating season.

Van Gaal sells players because he doesn't think they fit into his rigid philosophy. When they don't, he questions their attitude and personality. There will be two sides to the story, but he's the boss and in Matteo Darmian looks to have found a decent replacement.

Rafael didn't figure in Van Gaal's plans last season, when Antonio Valencia was preferred as a right-back. Indeed, under Ferguson Phil Jones was sometimes preferred, which suggests there were doubts about Rafael even then.

The Brazilian never became the 50 game-a-season player he should have done. Injuries and errors saw to that. He started more than 20 league games in only one of his seven seasons -- 2012-13 -- yet many fans still appreciated his attitude and potential.

He'll leave with their best wishes and, with the confidence of a new manager, he's got plenty of time to prove Van Gaal wrong.