|Fabio da Silva|
United’s Brazilian left-back is being farmed out to gain further experience with the Lisbon club expected to win the battle in Portugal to land him for a campaign, though their domestic rivals Sporting also keen.
The player’s mother has been in the Portuguese capital checking out his potential new home in readiness for her son’s temporary switch.
Consistent Reds skipper Patrice Evra has blocked the 21-year-old’s path to the senior team, while Fabio’s twin brother Rafael has had more joy in the right-back berth.
Fabio started 10 League, Carling Cup and Champions League matches up to November, but injury curtailed his efforts before apperarances against Ajax in both legs of the Europa League last 32.
But Evra’s presence is set to continue to be an obstacle and Sir Alex Ferguson wants to give Fabio a platform to catch up with Rafael.
“With Evra such a consistent performer over the last five years, it doesn’t matter who would have been second choice, it would have been difficult for them and that is the situation with Fabio,” said Ferguson.
“It has been difficult for him. Fabio’s brother has improved by getting consistent games for us. So I think a year out at a good level, playing every week, will make Fabio a real top player for us.”
But splitting from his twin will be tough.
“It’s so, so hard,” said Fabio, who has been in England with his brother since signing for the Reds from Fluminense in January 2008.
“It’s very, very difficult for me and my brother as well, but this is life. I have to play more games to improve my football and it’s why I think it’s better for me and for him as well.
“I had a good start and played a lot of games in the Champions League but, at the end, I’ve not played in many games. But it’s okay and we go to the next season.”
Old Trafford chief executive David Gill has confirmed the loan pathway that helped develop Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Jonny Evans before their elevation to senior United status will continue.
“It’s always been a feature. We’ve done that for many years,” said Gill.
“Alex and the coaching staff will work closely to try and place players in the right teams for their development. We have seen that with people like Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley, who have done very well and come back in after spells with other teams.
“Let’s see what happens, but it’s good for them and good for us.”
United reserves and England Under-19 players Will and Michael Keane, plus second-team colleagues Tom Thorpe, Davide Petrucci and Zeki Fryers, could all be up for similar treatment next term.