Ferguson set to break up the Da Silva twins


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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson's preference is for Fabio da Silva to be sent on loan to a Premier League club, enabling him to monitor the progress of a player he feels will benefit from a time of independent development away from his twin brother, Rafael.

Fabio has always been the less outgoing of the 21-year-old Brazilians and a move elsewhere in the North-west would bring greater independence at a time in the defenders' careers when a process of maturing is required from both.

Ferguson does send his foreign players out on loan overseas – Bebe to Besiktas, Josh King to Borussia Mönchengladbach and Rodrigo Possebon to Braga in recent years – though Fabio may well remain closer to home, if a suitable club can be found.

Tom Cleverley returned with huge benefits from his time at Wigan Athletic. Benfica appear to be interested in taking Fabio on loan and the defender said yesterday that such a deal depended on negotiations with United. Fabio admitted he had already sounded out his compatriot Fellipe Bastos, who is a Benfica fringe player on loan at Vasco da Gama in Brazil.

United robustly reject any suggestion that Nicolas Gaitan might head to Old Trafford as part of the same deal and i understands that Gaitan has told a close friend in the past week that there has been no contact from Manchester United.

Though Rafael is in the Brazilian Olympic squad, with Anderson, Fabio has been excluded, which means that United may be able to establish a destination for him early. He and Rafael have consecutive United squad numbers (20 and 21) and have been known to have matching toothbrushes. "I'm less introverted than him, and it's always been like that," Rafael has said.

Meanwhile, United's pre-season tour seems likely to entail a round trip of 17,000 miles, with an initial appearance in South Africa – where the club drew huge crowds in 2008 – likely to be followed by an onward trip to the Far East, for appearances in China.