Channel Islands Air Search Chief Officer John Fitzgerald doubts that Cardiff’s record signing Emiliano Sala is alive after he was on board a plane that went missing over the English Channel on Monday night.
The 28-year-old Argentinian striker completed a move to the Premier League club over the weekend but had returned to France, where he had been playing for Ligue 1 side Nantes.
French media, quoting police sources, said Sala was on the light aircraft that disappeared from radar on Monday night while apparently flying from Nantes to Cardiff.
France’s civil aviation authority said Sala was aboard the plane, according to reports.
And now the man in charge of the search for the missing plane has told So Foot: “I do not think that they are still alive.”
Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman told the Mirror: “We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night.
“We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further. We are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala.”
Sala had signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Welsh club after scoring 12 Ligue 1 goals in 19 appearances this season.
Guernsey Police posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning that the search had resumed at 8am but that there was still no trace of the plane.
It read: “Searching for the light aircraft PA 46 Malibu resumed at 8am this morning. No trace has currently been found.
“It was en route from Nantes, France to Cardiff, Wales with 2 people. More info when available.”
A further update of the search read: “Aircraft Search: 10.20am update. There are currently two helicopters, two planes and one lifeboat searching. Further information as it is available.”
Another update before midday revealed that over 1,000 square miles had been searched by five planes but no trace of the missing plane had been found and the search was continuing.
Nantes were due to travel to Entente Sannois for their Coupe de France clash on Wednesday evening, but the third-tier outfit have agreed to postpone the match until Sunday, January 27.
A statement from Sannois’ official website read: “The round-of-32 Coupe de France match between Entente Sannois and Nantes initially scheduled for Wednesday, January 23 has been rearranged for Sunday, January 27 following the disappearance of the plane of the former (Nantes) player Emiliano Sala.
“Sannois wish all the best to Nantes and to the family of Emiliano Sala at this challenging time.
“The club is also thinking of all the people on board the plane.”
Sala, a native of Santa Fe in Argentina, played at youth level for Club Proyecto Crecer in his home country before being snapped up by French club Bordeaux in 2010.
He was then sent out on a series of loans to Orleans, Niort and Caen and after failing to make more than a handful of appearances for Bordeaux, Sala joined Nantes in 2015.
It was in Brittany that his career began to flourish.
Sala’s hat-trick against Toulouse in October 2018 was the first by any Nantes player in Ligue 1 since 2006.
Cardiff signed the forward in a deal reportedly worth in the region of £15million, breaking the previous record of £11million paid for Gary Medel in 2013.