Police from Guernsey abandoned the search Thursday after the light aircraft taking the 28-year-old Argentinian to Wales following his signing with Cardiff City from Ligue 1 side Nantes disappeared from radar near the British island Monday
Lionel Messi urged investigators Friday to resume the search for missing striker Emiliano Sala after police called off rescue operations and admitted the chances of finding him were "extremely remote".
Police from Guernsey abandoned the search Thursday after the light aircraft taking the 28-year-old Argentinian to Wales following his signing with Cardiff City from Ligue 1 side Nantes disappeared from radar near the British island Monday.
"While there is the possibility, a shred of hope, we ask that you please #NoDejenDeBuscar (don't stop searching) for Emiliano. All my strength to your family and friends," said the Barcelona attacker on Instagram, with the hashtag "#PRAYFORSALA".
Messi's plea comes after Sala's father and other players, including Bordeaux's Valentin Vada and Leganes' Uruguayan attacker Diego Rolan, begged authorities to continue the search.
Sala's family have asked Nantes not to commemorate their former teammate at this weekend's French Cup clash with third-tier Entente Sannois Saint-Gratien.
"We ask you to respect the family who absolutely refuse to talk about mourning and ask us to keep believing," Nantes captain Valentin Rongier told more than 300 Nantes fans who came to an open training session Thursday.
"It is for this reason that we are not going to have a minute's silence or a minute's applause because we still have hope."
The sister of Sala, whose plane disappeared near the Channel Islands, vowed Friday that she would "never stop" looking for her brother despite rescuers ending their search.
"We miss him and we know he's here," Romina Sala told a press conference in Cardiff, the Welsh city whose Premier League football team had just made Sala their record signing.
"We came looking for him and we're going to take him back with us," she added.
The missing player's sister echoed Messi's call, saying it was her "priority" to restart the search.
"Emi and the pilot are here and we can't leave them," she said.
She thanked Messi, Argentinian teammate Sergio Aguero and fans for their support, calling on her brother to show his fighting spirit.
"He is a fighter, Emiliano started when he was very young and has always fought.
"All he wanted was to play football and fulfil his dream."
Her family plans to continue the search "until the very end", she explained, breaking into tears.
"We are not going to stop looking, we are never going to stop.
"I want to find my brother...and I have faith that we will find him."