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. Neither brother even drives and both depend on their elder brother, Luis Henrique, for lifts to Carrington each morning. For a considerable time when they first arrived at Old Trafford they relied on Rodrigo Possebon for translation help.
When the two arrived at Old Trafford in 2008, Fabio was considered the more naturally gifted of the two, though his chances have been more limited by the fact that he is a naturally left-sided player, where Patrice Evra has proved fairly immovable. Injuries have also played a substantial part in limiting Fabio to eight Premier League appearances since August 2008 – against his brother's 44.
Ferguson does send his foreign players out on loan overseas – Bebe to Besiktas, Josh King to Borussia Mönchengladbach and 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 The Independent understands that Gaitan has told a close friend in the past week that there has been no contact from United.
Though Rafael is in the provisional Brazilian Olympic squad, with Anderson, Fabio has been excluded, which means that United may be able to establish a destination for him early. Leaving his brother's side will be a wrench, even though he has been a married man since the age of 17, marrying his girlfriend Barbara, to help ease her arrival into England. He and Rafael carry the same Ben Sherman luggage on European trips, possess consecutive United squad numbers (20 and 21) and have even 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.
United close to singing section at Old Trafford
Manchester United supporters are on the threshold of winning their long-standing campaign for a dedicated singing section at Old Trafford, enabling them to deny visiting fans the chance to taunt them with Sir Alex Ferguson's complaint after a match four years ago that "the crowd were dead; it was like a funeral".
Fans' demands for a singing section to lift decibel levels have coincided with the club relocating away supporters to tier three of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand for last Sunday's match with Aston Villa.
Talks will be held with Greater Manchester Police over the next two weeks on whether the new away fan arrangements, first trialled against Valencia in December 2010, have met safety standards over segregation, coach parking and other logistical issues.
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