Four areas United's Rafael is outperforming Dani Alves this season

Comparing Manchester United full-back Rafael with Barcelona's Dani Alves.

Reports last week suggested that Manchester United could look to bring Dani Alves to Old Trafford next season.

The Barcelona right-back had claimed he was on his way to the Premier League, and a quick look at the defensive options for all the big clubs pointed to a straight fight between United and Liverpool.  But if Louis van Gaal really is keen on bringing the 31-year-old to England...and it is a big 'if' does he compare with United's current right-back Rafael this season?

Despite questions remaining over the long-term future of the younger Brazilian - who some feel still has a mistake in him every single match - Rafael has actually outperformed his countryman in four key defensive areas this season.

The United full-back averages considerably more clearances per game, as he does interceptions and dribbles, while his foul-per-match ratio is just 0.5 compared with two per match for Alves.

  Pass AccuracyTackles per gameClearances per gameInterceptions per gameKey Passes per gameDribbles per gameFouls per gameAppsMins
Dani Alves 88.7% 3.4 1 1 1.4 0.4 2 7 622
Rafael 86.76% 1.75 5 3.75 0.75 2.75 0.5 4 337

It could easily be argued that Rafael makes more clearances per game because United are under the proverbial cosh far more than Barcelona are.  But he is still doing his job well, and his last two matches - against West Ham United and Everton - have seen a player keen to show van Gaal just how good he can be.

There are plenty of areas where Alves still has the upper hand, not least in terms of passing accuracy, tackles per game and key passes.  But the United player has got over the disappointment of conceding a controversial penalty against Leicester City brilliantly, leaving us to wonder if Alves really would be the smart choice to operate on the right side of United's defence of the future.

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