The Brazilian is set to play in Ligue 1 next season, ending his eight-year association with the Red Devils, but thanked the club, fans and his former manager for their support

Brazilian defender Rafael has confirmed he is leaving Manchester United, but has thanked fans – and old boss Sir Alex Ferguson – for enriching his eight years at Old Trafford.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas revealed earlier on Monday that the 25-year-old had arrived in France in order to finalise a move to Ligue 1, having fallen out of favour under Louis van Gaal and been omitted from United’s pre-season tour of the United States.

Rafael made just 11 appearances under the Dutchman in a frustrating final season, but that has not soured his affection for the Red Devils, thanking both the club and paying special tribute to the role Sir Alex played in his development.

“I want to thank Manchester United fans for all the love during those eight years,” he wrote on his Twitter page.

I want to thank Manchester United fans for all the love during those 8 years.

— Rafael da Silva (@orafa2) August 3, 2015

“Since I signed with the club I lived incredible moments, after all were eight years wearing the shirt of one of the biggest clubs of the world.

“Thank you Manchester United. I also want to thank all employees who always treated me with great affection and gave me greater attention.

“Thank you United Kingdom, I learned a lot in this country, as a player, and no doubt as a human being, lessons that I will keep for the rest of my life.

“Thank you Sir Alex Ferguson for always believing in my work and for all the doors that you opened up to me. Now it’s a new path, a new challenge, God bless me!”