As the Nou Camp arose to greet Andres Iniesta on Sunday during his final El Clasico, the Barcelona captain turned to Lionel Messi to hand him the armband.
Iniesta was substituted in the 57th minute during Barca’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid for former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho which marked the end of an era for the La Liga champions.
The World Cup winner, who announced he will leave Barcelona at a tear-filled press conference last month, embraced Messi before he left the pitch.
While it was originally unclear as to what was said, ESPN is reported to have solved the mystery.
The broadcaster caught crucial footage that allowed them to divulge Iniesta’s words, where they claim he said: ‘Here Leo, I love you so much.’
The derby itself was a real send off for Iniesta, full of goals and clashes between old enemies.
Goals inside the first 15 minutes by Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo had the encounter tied at 1-1, with Real determined to halt any hope of an undefeated season for Barca.
As Bale struck the final goal of the game, Iniesta watched on from the bench as he prepares for a new journey as he enters the latter phases of his illustrious career.
A career admired by an old foe in Zinedine Zidane.
‘It is difficult because if you like football, seeing a player like him leave is tough,’ said the Real Madrid boss after the game. ‘I don’t think of him as a Barcelona player. I see him simply as a football player.
‘I’ve come across him two or three times and he is a charming, very reserved man and I like players who can do everything on the field but are that calm off it.
‘I only have good words for him, admiration for his football and I wish him the best as a player for the future but above all, as a person.