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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 16 February 2019

Lionel Messi joins calls for search to continue for missing Emiliano Sala

Argentine forward was on board a plane that went missing over the English Channel

Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has joined the calls for the search to continue for missing Cardiff City player Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson.

Sala, 28, was on board a plane that disappeared over the English Channel on Monday as the Argentine forward made his way from France to Cardiff after completing his club record move to the Premier League side.

The three-day search was called off on Thursday after rescuers failed to locate the plane, but numerous figures within football, including Messi, have urged the authorities to continue looking.

"While there is possibility, even a shred of hope, we ask don't stop searching," Messi wrote on his Instagram story with a picture of Sala.

"All my strength and support to his family and friends."

Messi's post follows similar requests from other players, who have used the social media hashtag #NoDejenDeBuscar - do not stop searching.

Manchester City forward and fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero tweeted: "We don't want to give up, we want to hold on to hope ... don't call off the search."

Sala became Cardiff's record signing on Saturday following the completion of a £15 million (Dh72.7m) transfer from French club Nantes.

The 28-year-old forward had returned to his old club to say goodbye to teammates and staff, and was then due to arrive in Cardiff to take part in his first training session.

Sala's sister Romina travelled to Cardiff where she held a news conference on Thursday to plead with authorities to continue the search.

"Please, please, please don't stop the search," she said. "We understand the effort but please don't stop the search."

A screenshot from Lionel Messi's Instagram story.
A screenshot from Lionel Messi's Instagram story.

Updated: January 26, 2019 11:46 AM

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