Cardiff announced the signing of Sala for a club record fee of £15 million, joining from Ligue 1 side Nantes. The Premier League club shared the news on Saturday, whilst the Argentine was in Wales, flying back to France to say goodbye to his Nantes teammates.
Sala then departed to begin a new life in Wales on Monday night, however, his plane disappeared from the radar near Alderney in the Channel Islands. Authorities began to search but there was no trace of neither Sala nor pilot David Ibbotson or any sign of pieces from the plane.
Emiliano Sala: A Look Back on a Wonderful Career
After days of searching across the channel, Guernsey Police called off the search on Thursday afternoon, describing the chances of survival as “remote”. Concerns had been raised about the condition of the plane, with Sala sending a voicemail to a friend saying he is on a “plane that looks like it’s about to fall apart”.
With recent events of the last few days being made widely known, he has left a mark on the sport that will be long-lasting. LWOF’s Seb Cooper looks back on his career.
Sala was born on 31 October 1990 in Cululú, which part of the province of Santa Fe in Argentina. He spent five years with Club Proyecto Crecer, a partner club of Girondins de Bordeaux, who play in the top tier of French football.
An impressive player at youth level, Sala earned his move to Bordeaux in 2010. Someone that helped him to settle in was Bordeaux U16’s coach Marcelo Vada, who was also from Argentina. His son, Valentin, was a fellow Proyecto Crerer graduate. Vada let Sala stay with him during his time in the French city.
The frontman made his debut for Les Girondins in February 2012 in a defeat to Lyon, coming on as a substitute. He failed to make many more appearances with the club and, as a result, was sent out on loan to US Orléans, who played two division below. After hitting form he later joined Chamois Niortais on loan, a division above what he experienced with Orléans.
The first half of the 2014/15 season saw Sala remain with Bordeaux but, after failing to make a big impact, he spent the second half of the campaign with Caen, who also play in the top tier. His goalscoring record improved as he found the net five times, but Bordeaux still didn’t seem too convinced.
Time With Nantes
In the summer of 2015, FC Nantes signed Emiliano Sala for €1 million. Now playing further north in France, his first season there was not outstanding by any means, but with six goals he was the club’s top scorer. The next few years, though, would be when Sala really established himself as the clinical finisher we know of today.
At 6″2″, Emiliano poses an ariel threat, as well being a strong player on the ball. In his next two seasons he would score 12 in both, working under some great managers, including Claudio Ranieri. As someone who could score so many goals on a consistent basis, and not playing for one of France’s big dogs, the 28-year-old really made a name for himself.
Now onto the current season, in which Sala has proved to be unplayable. Halfway through the campaign, he has already matched his goalscoring stats of the last two seasons. He has only been outscored in the league by Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar Jr. as well as Lille’s Nicolas Pepe. However, it was only a matter of time before his talent was spotted by bigger clubs.
Cardiff City Transfer
This January, with Sala’s insane form, clubs had been snooping around in hope of the forward’s signature. Premier League outfits including Ranieri’s Fulham and Everton had been linked with the Argentine, but it was Cardiff City who won the race to secure his services. He penned a three-and-a-half year contract with the Bluebirds, becoming the most expensive player in the club’s history.
In the pictures that Cardiff released of the unveiling of their new man, he looked absolutely delighted to be a part of the team, as you would expect. He had just completed a move to world’s most watched football league, something he had worked so hard for.
So with the news of his disappearance just 48 hours after the announcement, fans were left in dismay. Without a doubt, Sala has left a huge gap in football and he will be sorely missed.
Everyone at Last Word On Football have been deeply saddened by the events of the last few days, and we send our thoughts out to the family and friends of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson at this tragic time.