Rafael and Valencia Just Right

  • Last Updated: April 18 2012, 11:04 BST

Manchester United's Rafael da Silva has revealed his close friendship with Antonio Valencia is helping their on-field partnership.

Antonio Valencia: Close friends with Rafael

Ecuadorian right winger Valencia has emerged as a key figure in United's rise to the top of the Premier League this season.

And Brazilian youngster Rafael has been the full-back offering support through much of that period.

The 21-year-old believes the close bond between the two men has been part of their success.

Rafael said in the Daily Mirror: "I think it's recognised by everybody that Antonio has been one of my best friends at the club.

"That's not to disrespect anyone but we've created a very good understanding on the pitch.

"It's difficult to define Antonio's qualities on the pitch. He's 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, I'm more relaxed."

Rafael, who missed last week's shock defeat at Wigan, is also confident he now has the experience to handle what could be a tense finale to the season.

He added: "My past experience will help me to deal with these last few games. It helps us to deal better with the wins, losses and any disappointments."