Could Rafael be the first Manchester United player sold this summer?

Olt Trafford Outside

Manchester United right-back Rafael could be on borrowed time at Old Trafford given his lack of games and erratic form.

Manchester United are likely to be busy in the summer transfer window, with plenty of new faces already tipped to arrive.

What Louis van Gaal’s side needs the most is an experienced centre-back and a quality box-to-box midfielder, with Mats Hummels and Kevin Strootman the most favourable candidates, depending on how the latter recovers from injury.

But whatever happens in terms of arrivals there are also likely to be a few departures, with one player in particular possibly seeing out his final few months at Old Trafford.

Rafael has featured an impressive 170 times for United to date, but this season he has been used sparingly by van Gaal, appearing only 11 times in all competitions.

Injuries have played their part, but the problem with Rafael is that when he does play he is always one mistake away from turning a great performance into an awful one.

To many times, the Brazilian right-back acts before he thinks, making a challenge that puts his side into trouble; while his poor injury record cannot be ignored.

How many times have United fans seen Rafael holding one part of his body or another and looking pleadingly at the bench, knowing his time is up for another week?

With Antonio Valencia currently favoured in that position, Paddy McNair showing he can cut it on the flank and a new right-back a distinct possibility this summer, it would be no surprise if Rafael was sold.

At just 24, and with a contract until the summer of 2016, if he did move on he could be a canny investment for another side.

But after all those games for United, too many doubts remain to consider him the long-term option at right-back.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch