The 21-year-old defender and the Ecuadorian international have flourished together and helped United maintain their impressive form, with Ferguson’s side winning their last five games when the pair have started together.
“To be honest, I think it’s well recognised by everybody that Antonio has been one of my best friends at the club,” Rafael told MUTV.
“That’s not to disrespect anyone but I think we have created a very good understanding on the pitch.
“I can feel what he wants to do and vice versa and that is probably the reason why we have so much understanding on the pitch.
“I think it’s quite difficult to define Antonio’s qualities on the pitch. He’s quite fast and direct. He looks for the ball all the time.
“If I go forward, he covers me at the back and vice versa. It’s easy to work with him and, when I see him on the pitch, it leaves me more relaxed due to the understanding we have on the field.”
Rafael moved to Old Trafford from Fluminense in 2008, but the defender has only managed to nail down a regular spot in the United first-team in the second half of this season.
“Of course in a league like the Premier League, it’s important I play as many matches as possible,” he added.
“Although I wanted to play more, every match I play in I am keen to play even better. A player wants to play as many matches as possible and I want to play even more.
“I think the reason [behind his good form] is I’m probably getting a bit older and more mature.
“I see things in a different perspective. My aim is always to help the team, especially this season, to achieve the title we are after. So it’s probably due to being a bit more mature.”
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