Rafael signs for Lyon as PSG close in on Di Maria

Manchester United’s Brazilian right-back Rafael has agreed to join Olympique Lyonnais for a fee believed to be around £2.5million.

Angel di Marias form dipped drastically at Manchester United after an encouraging start. Picture: Getty

The Ligue 1 club yesterday announced the 25-year-old defender will sign a four-year deal in the next few days.

As well as Rafael’s exit, United are also set to lose their Argentine midfielder, Angel di Maria, who has arrived in Qatar ahead of his proposed £44.3m move to Paris St Germain.

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Rafael, a three-time Premier League winner, was told he could leave United earlier this summer after being left out of the squad for the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.

A statement on Lyon’s official website read: “Olympique Lyonnais would like to inform you of an agreement with Manchester United for the transfer of Brazilian international Rafael da Silva, who will sign in the coming days a four-year contract with OL, until 30 June, 2019.”

Rafael joined United along with his twin brother, Fabio, from Fluminense in 2008.

Rafael went on to establish himself as a first-team regular under Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, but new manager Louis van Gaal often overlooked the defender, choosing Antonio Valencia ahead of him.

Rafael started just six Premier League games in the 2014-15 season, the last of which came on October 26 against Chelsea.

When Van Gaal signed right-back Matteo Darmian from Torino this summer, it was clear Rafael was surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.

He becomes Lyon’s third summer acquisition after forward Claudio Beauvue was signed from Guingamp and defender Jeremy Morel joined them on a free transfer from Marseille.

Meanwhile, Di Maria touched down in Qatar late on Sunday and posed for photos with excited fans at the airport in the country’s capital, Doha. Di Maria was due to undergo tests at the Aspire Academy yesterday.

The 27-year-old was given permission to fly to Qatar for talks with PSG officials after United agreed a fee with the French champions for the midfielder.

United signed Di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7million last summer, but, after an encouraging start, his form dipped drastically and he started only one of the final 10 games of last season.

The former Benfica winger was left unsettled after an attempted burglary on his Cheshire home in February.

Since then, the 27-year-old and his family have been living in a city-centre apartment in Manchester owned by former United defender Phil Neville.

Di Maria said as recently as June that he wanted to stay at United, but it became apparent that he had his heart set on a move to the French capital in the last couple of weeks.

The Argentinian was due to report for duty during the second leg of United’s pre-season tour of the United States on July 25, but failed to show. After United’s 2-0 defeat by PSG in Chicago last week, PSG manager Laurent Blanc said both clubs were close to striking a deal for the player.

‘’Manchester United and PSG are two big clubs and negotiations can be difficult but we are close to the end,’’ the PSG coach said.

Van Gaal claimed at the time that he had no idea where his star midfielder was. “I don’t know where he is,’’ the United boss said. ‘’You can ask that every week but I don’t answer that question.’’

Van Gaal is expected to move quickly to sign a replacement for Di Maria. The Dutchman is interested in Barcelona forward Pedro, who was frustrated by his lack of game time at the Nou Camp last season.