‘As long as there’s a shred of hope’: Messi makes impassioned plea for Sala search to resume
Sala disappeared over the English Channel on Monday while traveling from France to start life with new team Cardiff City, whom he joined as the club’s record signing over the weekend.
The Piper PA-46 Malibu plane carrying Sala vanished from radar screens, prompting a search effort for the 28-year-old Argentine and plane pilot David Ibbotson.
That was called off after three days on Thursday, as police announced that no traces of the aircraft had been found.
The player’s family responded by begging for search efforts to continue – a plea which has been taken up by Sala’s countryman Messi.
The Barcelona star posted a message to his 107 million followers in Spanish on his Instagram account on Friday, which translated as: “As long as there is a possibility, a shred of hope, we ask you please, Do not Stop the Search for Emiliano.
“All my strength and support to your family and friends,” the 31-year-old Argentine forward added.
After news was announced that the search had been called off, Sala's sister Romina said on Thursday: "Emiliano is a great fighter - I know he hasn’t given up and he is waiting for us.
"We just want that the search continues. I know in my heart Emiliano is still alive somewhere in the Channel Islands.
"At the moment, the only thing we want is the whereabouts of the two people. Questions of how Emiliano came about his fate are the matter of another moment.
"The idea is to go to the search place to try to push forward this search, not to stop. The only thing I want is to see my brother, to find my brother.
"My message is do not stop the search. I am grateful for everything that has been done, but I beg that they don't stop with the search, please."Also on rt.com Sala family plead for rescue efforts to continue as football world reacts to end of search
Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched into the licensing of the flight that was carrying Sala.
Question marks have been raised over the legal legitimacy of the flight, while the player himself had said in an ominous message before getting on the aircraft that it "looks like it's going to fall apart."
Tributes have poured in for the player from around the footballing world, with fans holding vigils in Nantes, his former club, and at new team Cardiff.
The Welsh team have confirmed they will pay tribute to Sala before their Premier League match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.