Argentina legend Diego Maradona has expressed sympathy for the family of compatriot Emiliano Sala, who was on a plane that disappeared over the English Channel on Monday. 

Sala was travelling from Nantes to Wales, where he was due to link up with Cardiff City after completing a club-record move to the Premier League club on Saturday. 

Search and rescue teams scoured a vast area off the Channel Islands throughout Tuesday before resuming the effort early on Wednesday. 

Guernsey Police revealed that the search is focused on a scenario whereby those on board made it to a life raft after landing on water, although other theoretical outcomes are also being considered. 

Maradona took to Instagram to add his own voice to those hoping Sala will be found alive and well. 

"I cannot even imagine [what] the family of Emiliano Sala is going through," he said. "My wish, and that of everyone, is that you have landed at a different airport..."

A WhatsApp audio message said to have been sent by Sala to friends has also emerged and reveals his concerns about the light aircraft on which he was set to travel. 

"Hello, how are you crazy guys?" begins the message. "My bro, I am so tired. I was here in Nantes, doing so many things and things and things, and seems to never end! 

"So that's it guys. I am here in the plane, that looks like it's going to fall apart, and I am travelling to Cardiff.  

"We start there tomorrow, I have training in the afternoon with new team, and let's see what happens. 

"How are you bros? Everything okay? If in an hour and a half you don't receive news from me, I do not know if they are going to send someone to look for me because they will not find me, but you already know. I am so afraid." 

The search and rescue effort for the missing plane that carried Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala is focused on a scenario whereby those on board made it to a life raft after landing on water.

Sala, who was confirmed as Cardiff's record signing on Saturday after opting to leave Ligue 1 side Nantes, was on a private aircraft that disappeared near the Channel Islands on Monday, the French Civil Aviation Authority confirmed. 

Following a search throughout Tuesday, Guernsey Police stated that "the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim" if the aircraft did land on water. 

The resumption of search activity was confirmed at 07:30 GMT on Wednesday, with two planes searching a targeted area.

Guernsey Police went on to outline that four possible outcomes were guiding the operation, including those on board not making contact after either landing elsewhere or landing on water and being picked up by a passing ship.

Listing the other theoretical outcomes, the police update continued: "3. They landed on water and made it into the life raft we know was on board.

"4. The aircraft broke up on contact with the water, leaving them in the sea.

"Our search area is prioritised on the life raft option. More updates as information becomes available."

Floral tributes have been laid outside Cardiff City Stadium, while Nantes supporters staged a vigil in Sala's honour on Tuesday evening.

Nantes' Coupe de France fixture against Entente SSG, which was set to be played on Wednesday, has been postponed. 

Emiliano Sala was "a golden boy, who gave everything for the team," according to his former Niort team-mate Paul Delecroix. 

Sala is missing after the private plane he was on board disappeared near the Channel Islands on Monday. 

Guernsey Police have resumed a search and rescue operation for the 28-year-old, who was confirmed as Cardiff City's record signing after leaving Ligue 1 Nantes over the weekend, although they believe his chances of survival are "unfortunately slim". 

Argentinian striker Sala had spent his entire senior career in France, initially with Bordeaux. Before joining Nantes in 2015, he took in loan spells with Orleans, Niort and Caen. 

Delecroix, now a goalkeeper for Metz who dumped Thierry Henry's Monaco out of the Coupe de France on Tuesday, played alongside Sala as he amassed an impressive goal haul for Niort in Ligue 2 during 2013-14. 

"He scored 18 goals. I would remember that. Eighteen goals in 37 games," Delecroix told reporters at Stade Louis II. 

"We couldn't have done much better really, as he's one of the most prolific goalscorers for Niort in one season. 

"A golden boy who gave everything for the team. A guy you want to love. It's sad, I am sad." 

Nantes' Coupe de France fixture against Entente SSG, which was set to be played on Wednesday, has been postponed, while fans of the club gathered in support of Sala at a vigil on Tuesday.

The search for the plane that was carrying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala has been resumed. 

Sala, who was confirmed as Cardiff's record signing on Saturday after opting to leave Ligue 1 side Nantes, was on a private aircraft that disappeared near the Channel Islands on Monday, the French Civil Aviation Authority confirmed. 

Search and rescue teams worked throughout Tuesday before Guernsey Police confirmed operations would not take place overnight, adding that "the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim" if the aircraft did land on water. 

A police statement issued at 07:30 GMT on Wednesday read: "We have resumed searching. Two planes are taking off and will search a targeted area we believe has the highest likelihood of finding anything, based on review of the tides and weather since [Sala's plane] went missing. 

"Coastal areas around Alderney and off-lying rocks and islands will also be searched from the air. Updates will be provided once information is available."

Fans have laid tributes to Sala outside Cardiff City Stadium, while supporters gathered in a vigil in Nantes on Tuesday. 

Nantes' Coupe de France fixture against Entente SSG, which was set to be played on Wednesday, has been postponed. 

Speaking to reporters in his native Argentina, Sala's father Horacio Sala conceded he was "losing hope". 

"First thing and mainly, I would like to find him alive," he said. "But I am losing hope because, if they can't find him in the water, I have to say this doesn't look good. 

"My wife and my daughter are going to travel now, I don’t know if they are going to France or to England. 

"No one has called us, including no one from the Government. We are a modest family and have no contacts at that level. I heard it was snowing, I don't know. 

"It is something that has no explanation. He had a whole future in front of him and many projects."

As Cardiff City and Nantes debated the terms of Emiliano Sala's transfer to the Welsh club last week, nobody could have anticipated the events that would subsequently unfold.

During negotiations between the two clubs, Nantes had reportedly been keen for Sala to feature one last time against Angers on Sunday, but it was Cardiff who eventually got their way and the Argentine's club-record £18million move was confirmed late on Saturday.

It was a story typical of the January transfer window – a buying club desperate for mid-season reinforcements but facing stubbornness from a selling club determined not to be left in the lurch by the loss of one of their key players.

Typical, that is, until a light aircraft transporting Sala to Wales from western France disappeared over the English channel late on Monday.

Guernsey Police conducted search and rescue operations for the plane throughout Tuesday without success, suspending the search overnight. It will resume at sunrise.

"We have found no signs of those on board," the police said in a statement. "If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim."

There remains hope Sala will be found, but tributes being laid outside Cardiff City Stadium and a gathering of Nantes fans in the French city suggests supporters are fearing the worst.

Sala's professional breakthrough came during his time playing for Proyecto Crecer in his homeland – a youth academy with links to Ligue 1 side Bordeaux, who spotted his talent and brought him to Europe in 2012.

Although his time at Bordeaux demanded patience – Sala only made 11 league appearances for the club over three years – loan periods at Orleans, Niort and Caen gave him a platform to demonstrate his abilities.

Nineteen goals in 37 matches at third-tier Orleans, 18 in 37 league games with Ligue 2 outfit Niort and then five in 13 top-flight appearances with Caen – a period in which he played alongside N'Golo Kante and Thomas Lemar - convinced Nantes to take him to Stade de la Beaujoire on a five-year contract in 2015, paying a reported €1million for his services.

Sala quickly became a regular starter for Nantes and he racked up 42 league goals in three-and-a-half seasons for the club. This season, only Paris Saint-Germain's star trio of Kylian Mbappe (17), Edinson Cavani (14) and Neymar (13), along with in-demand Lille forward Nicolas Pepe (13), have outscored Sala, who netted 12 from 19 games in Ligue 1.

It is that kind of form which will have persuaded Cardiff that Sala was the man to fire them away from the relegation zone and to part with a reported £18m. On Tuesday night, however, prayers were being said that Sala would live to start his new chapter with the Premier League club.

In November last year, Cardiff earned praise for their conduct and compassion when hosting Leicester City in the Foxes' first match since the death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of five people.

As football steels itself for the next update in football's latest aviatic incident, it is Cardiff themselves – and Nantes – who need the sport to rally around them.

Guernsey Police have suspended the search for Emiliano Sala, with the force having so far found "no signs of those on board" an aircraft on which the Cardiff City striker was travelling.

The French Civil Aviation Authority confirmed on Tuesday that the 28-year-old was on a plane that had gone missing while travelling from Nantes to Cardiff late on Monday.

Sala, who was confirmed as Cardiff's record signing on Saturday after opting to leave Ligue 1 side Nantes, is said to have been one of two people on an aircraft that disappeared while crossing the English Channel.

Search and rescue teams searched for Sala throughout Tuesday but Guernsey Police confirmed in a statement that operations would not take place through the night.

"During the course of the 15-hour search, which used multiple air and sea assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, a number of floating objects have been seen in the water," the force's statement said. 

"We have been unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft.

"We have found no signs of those on board. If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim.

"Search and rescue operations have been suspended as the sun has now set. The current plan is for it to resume at sunrise tomorrow.  There will be no further updates tonight."

Fans have begun to lay tributes to Sala outside Cardiff City Stadium, while a rally will be held by Nantes supporters on Tuesday.

Nantes' Coupe de France fixture against Entente SSG, which was set to be played on Wednesday, has been postponed.

Cardiff chief executive Ken Choo also gave an update on the Sala situation to Sky News.

"He's such a great person, he was so happy to join Cardiff City, you can see from his place that he is so happy to be here and so ready to start," Choo said.

"Words cannot describe the look on his face when he met us and we walked him around the ground. He was absolutely ready to give it a go and we knew him then and we really feel sad to hear of this news because he is such a great person.

"You could see the happiness on his face when he signed for Cardiff, it was one of the best days of his life. We are very sad and we'd like to thank all the people who are supporting us today, we have received lots of messages. 

"We've had support from the Premier League executives as well but we are just waiting for information like everyone else with the authorities on whereabouts the plane is and the circumstances.

"When we get some news we will convey it from the club but we have a lot of supporters who are very concerned and we understand that, we are too.

"We are just waiting for them [the authorities] to inform us and we are trying to communicate with them as well. We're trying to reach the agent of the player, the family as well because we are very concerned. We'd like to reach out to the family because it's a tough time for them. We just want to know if he's okay and if the pilot's okay and where the plane is."

Sala's former Nantes manager Claudio Ranieri - now at Fulham - also paid tribute to the striker, lauding his character and "wishing" for good news.

"I was devastated to hear the news," the Italian said on Tuesday. "Emiliano is a wonderful character. He's a fighter.

"The world of football will be united in wishing for some positive news. I pray for Emiliano and his family."

 

Cardiff City will continue to "pray for positive news" over missing striker Emiliano Sala.

The French Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed the 28-year-old was onboard a plane that has gone missing while travelling from Nantes to Cardiff late on Monday.

A Cardiff statement on Tuesday read: "We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

"Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

"We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

"All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

"We continue to pray for positive news."

Argentine Sala, who was confirmed as Cardiff's record signing on Saturday after opting to leave Ligue 1 Nantes, is said to have been one of two people on the aircraft that disappeared while crossing the English Channel.

An immediate search and rescue operation was launched in the area but was halted in the early hours of Tuesday due to worsening weather conditions. Local and French authorities resumed their efforts at 0800 local time.

The latest update from Guernsey Police, given at 1315 local time, read: "There are currently two planes, two helicopters and a lifeboat searching for the aircraft.

"No trace has yet been found. Conditions during the search last night were challenging, with wave heights of up to two metres, with heavy rain showers and poor visibility.

"Today the sea is much calmer, and although visibility was good, it is now deteriorating.

"UK authorities have been calling airfields on the south coast to see if it landed there. So far we have no confirmation that it did.

"The search will continue throughout the afternoon, with a decision taken at sunset as to whether it will carry on overnight."

Channel Islands Air Search Chief Officer John Fitzgerald admitted, however, the longer the search goes on, the lower the chances of finding the plane and its passengers.

He told Wales Online: "We have been up since early this morning and just had a crew change at lunchtime, but there has been nothing in terms of finding casualties.

"As time goes on, the chances of finding survivors gets more and more unlikely. The water temperature is extremely cold at this time of year. The area is very tidal and moves very quickly but the search conditions are quite good as it is overcast, which helps because there is no glare off the water."

Sala's father, Horacio, told Argentine media he was "desperate", according to L'Equipe.

His mother, Mercedes, said to C5N: "The plane is [owned by] the president of the Cardiff club. We were informed the plane had disappeared and that they were looking for it. We're in touch minute by minute."

Sala joined the Bluebirds from Nantes on a three-and-a-half-year deal. He said his goodbyes to his team-mates at the Ligue 1 club on Monday.

It is reported that Nantes' Coupe de France match with Entente SSG, scheduled for Wednesday, will be postponed.

Cardiff City will continue to "pray for positive news" over missing striker Emiliano Sala.

The French Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed the 28-year-old was onboard a plane that has gone missing while travelling from Nantes to Cardiff late on Monday.

A Cardiff statement read: "We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

"Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

"We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

"All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

"We continue to pray for positive news."

 

Emiliano Sala was on board a plane that has gone missing while travelling from Nantes to Cardiff, the French Civil Aviation Authority has told AFP.

Argentine Sala, who was confirmed as Cardiff City's record signing on Saturday after opting to leave Ligue 1 Nantes, is said to have been one of two people on the aircraft that disappeared on Monday while crossing the English Channel.

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman was quoted as saying in a statement on Tuesday: "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."

Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 2023 local time that a PA 46 Malibu light aircraft had lost radar contact.

An immediate search and rescue operation was launched in the area but was halted in the early hours of Tuesday due to worsening weather conditions.

Local and French authorities resumed their efforts at 0800. At 1025, Guernsey Police tweeted: "There are currently two helicopters, two planes and one lifeboat searching. Further information as it is available."

There are growing concerns that new Cardiff City signing Emiliano Sala was on board a plane that went missing over the English Channel on Monday.

Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 2023 local time that a PA 46 Malibu light aircraft, travelling from Nantes to Cardiff, had lost radar contact.

It is feared the striker, who was confirmed as the Premier League club's record signing on Saturday, was one of two people on board.

An immediate search and rescue operation was launched in the area but was halted in the early hours of Tuesday due to worsening weather conditions. Local and French authorities resumed their efforts at 0800.

In a statement published on Facebook, Guernsey Police said: "Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 2023 from Jersey ATC, that a light aircraft had gone off their radar approximately 15 miles north of Guernsey, initiating a major search and rescue operation involving both St Peter Port and Alderney lifeboats. Air Search 1 and 2 HM Coastguard helicopters are also involved in the search.

"The PA 46 Malibu, a single turbine engine aircraft was on route from Nantes in France, to Cardiff in Wales, with two people on board when it was lost off radar as Jersey ATC was attempting to make contact.

"A search model was created on SARIS, based on the likely ditching position, and all search and rescue assets were tasked to the area.

"The search was terminated at 0200, with all search and rescue assets being stood down, due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility. At this time no trace of the missing aircraft had been found.

"The aircraft departed Nantes at 1915 for Cardiff. The aircraft was flying at 5000 feet. The aircraft on passing Guernsey requested descent. Jersey ATC lost contact whilst it was flying at 2300 feet.

"Air Search 1 and a French rescue helicopter based in Cherbourg, resumed the search of the area at 0800."

Cardiff City have confirmed the arrival of striker Emiliano Sala for a club-record fee from Nantes.

Thomas Tuchel believes the first half of his debut season at Paris Saint-Germain has been "almost perfect" as they head into the mid-season break 13 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit.

PSG defeated Nantes 1-0 at the Parc des Princes on Saturday to ensure they retained their unbeaten start to the league season, having dropped just four points in total.

Not only are PSG 13 points ahead of Lille, they also have two games in hand on their closest rivals, in what has been an emphatic beginning for Tuchel in Ligue 1.

But while PSG have been consistently impressive, Tuchel also feels their progress is noticeable.

"When you look at the results, it's almost perfect," Tuchel told reporters after Saturday's game. "I am very, very happy.

"We can see the progress of the team, we can feel the energy of the team. Everyone was very open to new ideas. It was nice."

Saturday's game was PSG's first in Ligue 1 since December 5, as the champions have had two matches postponed due to the 'gilet jaunes' demonstrations.

It had been suggested PSG looked tired and lacking in sharpness in what was a rather laboured victory over Nantes, though Tuchel is adamant the team were "amazing".

"No, I do not think so," he said when asked if they were tired. "We had 70 per cent possession, we had 40 touches in the opposing area, we had 23 shots... It's amazing.

"We played with a lot of quality. We do a very aggressive counter-pressing, we just lacked precision in the final touch, in the last pass.

"In my opinion, this is a match we could've won by four goals. We controlled the match. We deserved to win.

"We are tired, but that's normal. The team has been amazing. I compliment my players."

Kylian Mbappe made the difference in the absence of Neymar, scoring the only goal of the game as Paris Saint-Germain beat Nantes 1-0 to end 2018 in victorious fashion.

Brazil star Neymar had been allowed to travel back to his home country to rest following recent struggles with a groin injury, and while PSG missed his craft, they scraped the win nonetheless.

Angel Di Maria looked PSG's biggest threat in the first half, though his two best strikes did not quite hit the target as the hosts failed to make the most of their superiority.

PSG remained the controlling force after the interval and finally broke the deadlock through Mbappe in the 68th minute, and that proved to be enough as the hosts' first Ligue 1 game since December 5 – due to the 'gilet jaunes' demonstrations – ended with a triumph.

It took less than a minute for PSG to threaten, as Di Maria saw a controlled volley go just agonisingly over Ciprian Tatarusanu's crossbar.

But that failed to usher in a period of PSG bombardment, with their next opportunity not presenting itself until the 25th minute, when Julian Draxler shot over from 20 yards after Mbappe's cut-back.

Di Maria went close again a few moments later, his 25-yard strike flying past the right-hand post with Tatarusanu looking beaten.

PSG continued to threaten from distance after the break, with Di Maria – again – and Mbappe shooting just off target in the first 12 minutes.

Draxler thought he opened the scoring after an hour, but VAR proved the ball went out of play in the build-up, despite Marco Verratti's best efforts.

There was no denying Mbappe 22 minutes from time, though, as he turned in – via the crossbar – from close range after Marquinhos flicked on Di Maria's corner.

Di Maria saw another effort thud against the crossbar but it mattered little as PSG secured victory to open up a 13-point lead over Lille - beaten 2-1 by Toulouse - at the top of the table.

What does it mean? PSG lacking sharpness

It is fair to say PSG looked a little off the pace on Saturday, and it is easy to understand why, given the only teams they have faced since December 5 were Red Star Belgrade and Orleans. Considering the circumstances and the absence of Neymar, they will surely be happy to get this one out of the way.

Di Maria provides PSG's spark

With Neymar not featuring, Di Maria took on the mantle of PSG's creative hub and he was certainly lively, seeing several shots go close. He was unable to get a deserved goal, but there is no doubt about the quality he showed.

Cavani blends into the background

Perhaps the service to him was lacking, but Edinson Cavani did little to make any openings for himself and rarely featured in build-up play before being hooked towards the end.

What's next?

After the winter break, PSG have games against Pontivy and Guingamp in the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, respectively, before then returning to Ligue 1 action on January 11 at Amiens. Nantes will host Chateauroux in the Coupe de France, then Montpellier in the league four days later on January 8.

Five Ligue 1 fixtures, including those of champions Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille, have been called off due to anticipated riots in France.

Two more Ligue 1 fixtures have been postponed due to the ongoing civil unrest in France, the league have confirmed.

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