Nico Gaitán delivered a man-of-the-match performance in Friday's League Cup Final victory over Marítimo, scoring one, assisting another, and tormenting the opposition's defence throughout the game. He was visibly emotional when he left the pitch to a standing ovation in the 78th minute, shedding tears as he sat down on the bench. It was immediately apparent that this had been Gaitán's final appearance for the club, and the Argentinean confirmed this fact after the final whistle.
In a frank and heartfelt post-match interview, published shortly after midnight on MaisFutebol, the 28-year old winger thanked the club and its supporters, discussed his next destination, and compared the coaching styles of Rui Vitória and Jorge Jesus. Here is a full translation of Gaitán's emotional interview.
"I wanted to to say a special goodbye to the fans. I still haven't signed anything. I don't know if I will leave or not, but it's very close. My time at Benfica was very good. They were 6 years in which I have grown with the help of all of (my) teammates, the coaches, medical staff, [Director of Football] Rui Costa, the President [Luís Filipe Vieira]... They always helped me and for this I'm very happy. I have to thank my teammates of these (past) 6 years - winning or not winning titles - they were very good."
"I don't know which my next club will be, but my exit is very close. I found out today at midday that this could possibly be my last game, but I still haven't spoken with my agent to know which team I will go to."
"[Eduardo] Salvio said that I'm worth 50 million? Ah, this is a locker room banter! In football there is much talk of millions when there are many people that don't have anything to eat. I don't like to speak about numbers, but I understand that football moves a lot of money. (But) I won't put a price on myself."
"I lived many important moments in (my) six years at Benfica. I was lucky to be in a team that won many titles. There were many beautiful moments, even when we didn't win, (which) is also part of football. And I met many good people."
"I always wanted to play in Spain or England... in a stronger league. Not that the Portuguese league isn't strong, but it doesn't have the exposure of the other leagues. It's time to let other players grow, such as Gonçalo Guedes or others even younger."
"Is [André] Carrillo my successor? I don't like this (idea of being a) successor. When I arrived, they also said that I was going to be the successor to [Ángel] di María. The important (thing) is that when you arrive, you replicate the (hard) work done by the other (player)."
"I leave a word of thanks to everyone at Benfica, they always treated me very well. I will really miss Portugal and Lisbon. I arrived as Gaitán and I will leave as Nico, the same thing that happened at Boca [Juniors]. When they refer to you by your first name... the affection is on another level."
"I want to say thanks to the fans. They are very consistent and support the team with great fervour. A person never likes to cry... this has already happened (to me) in one of the Europa League finals. But (I've spent) years (here), with good moments and others not so much. I grew as a person and learned many things here. Everyone helped me a lot, which is why I reacted like this. When we have feelings, we cannot hide (them)."
"With Jorge Jesus I learned a lot. When I arrived I played as a forward and he converted me into a winger, against my will. Tactically, Jesus is one of the best, there is no hiding from this. I also learned with Rui Vitória and his technical staff in the last year. (It is) the calm that he transmits and the ease of communication more than his tactical capacity that helped us to become Champions. We weren't able to assimilate (his) ideas as fast, but with time we got there and were able to win."