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Nantes to retire number 9 shirt in Sala tribute

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Nantes has gone to great lengths to remember Emiliano Sala after his body was recovered from the airplane wreckage located in the English Channel and identified on Thursday.

Sala played four years at Nantes and made 133 appearances before his transfer to Cardiff City, and the French club is honoring his memory by retiring its number 9 jersey in his name. There will be a ceremony at Sunday’s match against fellow Ligue 1 side Nimes, and all ticket prices have been reduced €9 as part of his remembrance, ensuring that the stadium will be full for the pre-match event.

A club retiring the number 9 jersey is a massive honor, as it often is worn by the team’s main striker and is often worn as a symbol of goalscoring prowess. Players flock to the jersey number to show fans, opponents, and sponsors they are an important member of the squad.

“I don’t have the words. It’s a tragedy, I’m crushed,” Nantes president Waldemar Kita said. “Emiliano left his mark. “That’s why, like many fans, I wish to honor him by retiring the number nine.”

Sala wore number 9 at Nantes and scored 48 goals in his 133 appearances for the club, with 42 of those goals coming in Ligue 1 play. He was on fire this season prior to his departure, scoring 12 goals in 19 Ligue 1 appearances. He had not scored more than 12 goals a season in his three full campaigns with Nantes prior.

New search for missing plane, Sala to begin

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LONDON (AP) The man leading a private search of the missing plane carrying Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala said on Monday there was a “very good chance” of finding the aircraft.

David Mearns, an American-born marine scientist and shipwreck-hunting specialist, said a survey vessel equipped with state-of-the-art search equipment has been mobilized and will conduct an underwater search for the plane this weekend.

“There’s no guarantee,” Mearns said, “but (Sala’s) family is determined to do everything they possibly can through the support they have in the football community and through family and friends.”

The plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared from radar last week over the English Channel. The flight was going from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff, where Sala was set to start playing for his new club in the Premier League.

More than 300,000 euros ($340,000) have been raised online to allow Sala’s family to fund a private search, after an official rescue operation for the light aircraft was called off on Thursday after three days. Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona were among those making pleas to resume a search.

Family and friends of Sala went on a special flight on Monday to view the area over the English Channel where the plane disappeared. The “scenic flight” circled the island of Alderney, according to Aurigny, an airline that operates in the Channel Islands.

Mearns, who has said he has located 24 major shipwrecks, said the purpose of the flight was to recreate the route of the plane and “the type of pattern the search-and-rescue aircraft might have created so (the family) could have a feel exactly for the waters.”

“I want to emphasize,” said Mearns, speaking to reporters at Guernsey Airport as Sala’s mother and sister stood beside him, “that the family are determined to get answers that they don’t have right now, and the only way to do that is find this missing plane.”

The private search, which began on Saturday, initially used two fishing boats – one from Guernsey and one from the U.K. – that were in the area at the time of the last radar contact of the plane.

“In terms of something being lost in the ocean, this is a relatively small search area,” Mearns said. “But there are complications in terms of it being a small plane, the bottom is very hard, there is lots of other wreckage out there and we have the weather. We are working in the worst time (of the year).”

Mearns said he was confident there were enough funds to carry out the “search and identification of the plane.” If the plane was to be recovered, he would hand over the operation to police and other authorities.

The official search was abandoned after Guernsey harbor master Capt. David Barker said the chances of survival after such a long period were “extremely remote.”

Cardiff signed Sala from Nantes for a club-record fee, reported to be 15 million pounds ($19 million), on Jan. 19. The striker left the Welsh capital after completing the move and returned to Nantes to collect his belongings and say goodbye to teammates and staff of the French club.

Cardiff’s first game since Sala’s disappearance will be on Tuesday at Arsenal, and manager Neil Warnock said some of his players have needed “help from outside” the club to deal with the situation.

“One or two of the lads, it was only right that they speak to people who might help them in this situation,” Warnock said. “You don’t realize the trauma that it causes a lot of families, whether it’s memories brought back or different situations.”

Warnock said it had been the most difficult week of his 39-year managerial career.

“It is such a strange situation,” he said. “I don’t think we could have played a game on Saturday, but it doesn’t get that much better this morning … I don’t know how it’s going to be in the next 24 hours.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Teammates, clubs react to Sala disappearance

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The disappearance of Emiliano Sala has sent the soccer world into a state of shock.

The horrible news over the English channel however has brought many players, fans and administrators together, as they hope and pray for the safe return of Sala and the flight’s pilot. Sala was on his way from Nantes, France to Cardiff, where he had just signed a contract with a $19 million transfer fee.

Here’s a look at some of the big names across the world who have reacted to the news of Sala’s disappearance.


Report: Nantes ponders cancelling Miazga loan for poor play

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According to independent French journalist Mohamed Toubache-Ter, Ligue 1 club FC Nantes is considering cancelling the loan of Matt Miazga during the January transfer window due to poor play.

Toubache-Ter was first to the news that Miazga would go out on loan from Chelsea this summer, originally thought to be to fellow French side Caen before Nantes came in last-minute with a better offer.

Since arriving on August 6 and riding the bench during the season opener, Miazga has played the full 90 minutes in every league match for the club before a yellow card suspension served on October 20. However, the 23-year-old was dropped out of the squad completely for Saturday’s 2-1 win over Amiens, and was not included in the Nantes squad for the club’s upcoming Coupe de la Ligue match at Montpellier on Tuesday. It was reported that he was not present with the team at the airport for the trip.

Miazga has been an important part of the recent USMNT youth reload, and he has played well overall in his seven caps over the last calendar year since the United States missed out on World Cup qualification. However, at Nantes, the club sits in the bottom half of the Ligue 1 table and has conceded 17 goals, three behind Amiens for most in the French top flight.

Cancelling a loan deal is somewhat complicated, and often results in a penalty fee being paid and it could sour relationships for future loans. Therefore, this is far from a certain thing. However, if the front office feels like Miazga’s presence is hurting the team or better options are likely on the way in January, the club may feel making the move is worth any potential hassle.

Miazga’s competition at Nantes includes the pair that started the Amiens match – 25-year-old Brazilian Diego Carlos and 28-year-old Senegalese CB Kara Mbodji – plus 31-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Pallois who was on the bench for that league tussle. All three were included in the Coupe de la Ligue squad for this week.

The American was originally sent out on loan because he was considered nowhere near the current Chelsea squad that includes David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and Gary Cahill.

Ranieri offered Nantes spot, but wants a Premier League job

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According to the Telegraph, Claudio Ranieri has been offered the open managerial position at French club FC Nantes, but the Italian would favor to return to the Premier League, and is sitting on the Ligue 1 offer in the hopes that an English job will crop up.

Ranieri has been without a job after being fired by Leicester City in February, and wishes to return to the league where he won the title a year ago.

Nantes was left without a boss after Sergio Conceicao left last week to take the FC Porto job in his home country. Conceicao had joined Nantes in December and took the club from bottom of the table to a seventh-placed finish, just missing out on a Europa League berth.

There is only one Premier League position currently open, and that is at Crystal Palace where Sam Allardyce quit recently for undisclosed reasons. In the Championship, both Sunderland and Leeds United are without a manager, but it’s unclear if Ranieri would drop down a league with the Nantes offer already in hand.

Ranieri obviously has the Premier League title to his name, but it seems that clubs are wary of the circumstances surrounding his Leicester City exit. There were extensive rumors of player unrest, and for a squad to lose faith in the manager who brought them a historic championship is clearly giving clubs pause when it comes to hiring the Italian.