Manchester United defender Rafael believes he is maturing as a footballer and has announced his intentions to be included in the Brazil squad for the 2014 World Cup.
Since joining in 2008, Rafael has become well known at Old Trafford for being an attacking-minded full-back with a tendency to dive in and make reckless tackles, however the 22-year-old believes he is ironing-out the imperfections in his game.
With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling sidelined so far this season, Rafael has been a regular for United at right-back. The Brazilian has been impressive and netted twice in the Premier League.
“The way I play for United has changed a little bit and I have scored some goals as well” said Rafael.
“But mature is the word. I always want the ball. Now I read the game more and know what the opposing player is going to do.”
He has now set his sights on the next World Cup: “It is a big time for me. The World Cup is the big competition for Brazil and all the fans expect us to win. I am really looking forward to being there.”
His boss, Sir Alex Ferguson agrees that Rafael is improving and eradicating parts of his game that made him a liability at times in previous seasons.
“He is maturing and learning all the time” said the Scottish boss.
“Rafael has all the ingredients of a great player. He is blessed with great enthusiasm, skill and speed.
“He was quite impulsive and tended to over-commit himself.
“We have gone over it a few times but, bit by bit, it is all coming together and he was easily our best player Saturday” added Ferguson.