Has Rafael played his last competitive game for Manchester United?

Old Trafford

Rafael may have pulled on a Manchester United shirt for the last time.

Rafael is a player who divides opinion among Manchester United fans.

There are some who love the attack-minded, feisty Brazilian and others who feel he is an accident waiting to happen, a player who shows passion, yes, but also makes inexplicable decisions on a worryingly regular basis.

Whatever side of the fence you reside in terms of the 24-year-old, the simple fact is he has barely featured under manager Louis van Gaal, due to a mixture of injury problems and selection decisions.

In his place, Antonio Valencia has impressed, and the Ecuadorian is now a regular starter for United, leaving Rafael to play for the under-21s, as he did on Monday evening.

But shortly before half-time against Leicester City’s youngsters, Rafael went down with a suspected broken rib, leaving him to recover from yet another injury blow.

Even if the problem is not as bad as first feared, the simple fact is time appears to be running out for Rafael at Old Trafford.

He has played only 11 senior matches all season and has been an unused substitute for United’s last four matches.

And with every game between now and the end of the campaign likely to be vital in the race for Champions League qualification, do not expect van Gaal to swap Valencia for his younger teammate unless absolutely necessary.

With a contract that expires in the summer of 2016, could we have seen the last of Rafael in a United shirt? The signs certainly point that way.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch