The body recovered from a plane which crashed in the English Channel has been formally identified as Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala, Dorset Police confirmed.

The former Nantes forward and pilot David Ibbotson have been missing since the plane they were flying in lost contact with Air Traffic Control on Monday, January 21.

The Piper Malibu aircraft was found on the seabed of the English Channel on Sunday morning – and a body was recovered from the wreckage on Wednesday.

A Dorset Police statement on Thursday night read: “The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.

“The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

“HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police.

“On Monday 21 January 2019, a plane carrying both men was flying from Nantes to Cardiff when it lost contact with Air Traffic Control, north of Guernsey.

“Sadly a search and rescue operation was unsuccessful in locating the plane and the two occupants.

“Subsequently AAIB and privately funded search teams were deployed to the relevant area. Using specialist equipment, the teams succeeded in locating and identifying the plane and recovering Mr Sala’s body.”

Argentine striker Sala’s transfer to Cardiff from Nantes had been announced just two days before the plane disappeared as it carried him back to the Welsh capital.

The wreckage of the plane was located 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey and, after the body was recovered, it was taken to Portland Port in Dorset, where the process of formal identification took place.

Meanwhile, a statement from Cardiff read: “We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.

“He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”

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