Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Brazilian defender Fabio will go out on loan next season and hailed Jonny Evans as possibly the best defender in England. Although he featured in the Red Devils' UEFA Champions League final defeat to Barcelona last season, Fabio has failed to progress as expected.
A succession of niggling injuries have not helped and, ahead of this afternoon's Premier League encounter with Aston Villa, Fabio had made just 15 appearances in all competitions this term and started only twice in league combat. And, while it will mean splitting him from twin Rafael, who could return at right-back this afternoon, Ferguson believes the best thing for Fabio's development is a spell away from Old Trafford.
"Fabio will go on loan next season to give him concentrated first-team experience," Ferguson told United Review. "I have already talked to him and he understands the value of playing regularly at a higher level than we can give him at the moment."
Evans is among a number of United players who have benefitted from the loan system, spending time at both Royal Antwerp and Sunderland. And that experience has come to the fore this season as Evans has proved to be an able deputy for injured skipper Nemanja Vidic - so good indeed that Ferguson believes the Northern Ireland international stands comparison with the very best.
"I must admit my heart sank a little when I learned just how long Nemanja Vidic was going to be out," the Scot said. "He and Rio Ferdinand had become the cornerstone of our defence but Rio responded brilliantly, despite his back problem, and has now struck up a fine partnership with Jonny Evans.
"Jonny came to us from Belfast when he was 12 or 13, always exceptionally talented but gangly with physical issues growing up," said Ferguson. "We had him out on loan with Antwerp and Sunderland and now we are seeing the value of nurturing him. There is no doubt he has been helped playing alongside the experience of Rio and he is now arguably the best defender in the country."