Premier League club Cardiff City’s record new signing, Emiliano Sala was on board a light aircraft that lost radar contact over the English channel late on Monday, French police sources said.
The 28-year-old Argentinian striker completed a £15million move to the Premier League club over the weekend but had returned to France, where he had been playing for Ligue 1 side Nantes.
A statement from police on Guernsey, a British island just off the coast of France, said lifeboats and helicopters had searched for several hours for the plane, which had two people on board, without success.
“The search was terminated at 02:00, with all search and rescue assets being stood down, due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility,” the statement said.
Helicopters from the British and French coastguard joined renewed efforts on Tuesday morning to find the plane which is thought to have crashed.
Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman said that the club is concerned for Sala’s safety.
“We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night,” said Dalman.
“We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further. We are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala.”
Sala, 28, who had been at Nantes since 2016 and had scored 12 league goals this season, had signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with relegation-threatened Cardiff subject to receiving international clearance.
When he put pen to paper at Cardiff on Saturday, he said in a statement: “I’m very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and get down to work.
“For me it feels special (to be the club’s record signing). I have come here wanting to work and to help my team-mates and the club.”