Emiliano Sala felt ‘forced out’ by Nantes before plane crash

Footballer Emiliano Sala told a friend he felt forced out of his former club, days before he died in a plane crash.

The 28-year-old Argentine and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, were killed when the plane carrying him to his new club Cardiff City came down on 21 January 2019.

The BBC has heard a voice message in which Sala says he did not feel respected at French club Nantes. FC Nantes refused to comment on the message.

On Tuesday events are being held in Nantes and Cardiff in memory of Sala and Mr Ibbotson, marking one year since the plane went missing over the Channel Islands.

One of those attending was Cardiff defender Sol Bamba, who said: “Me personally, I knew the lad so it was massive for me to be here on behalf of his family and all his friends… so it’s very important for everyone.

“I think when there’s a tragedy like that the football community get together and I think it’s important.

The BBC has heard a WhatsApp voice message, sent by Sala days before the fatal flight, in which he tells a friend he felt like he was being forced out of FC Nantes after asking for his contract to be extended four times.

Sent three days before he signed for Cardiff City in a record £15m deal, Sala said he felt he had not been been kept properly informed about the transfer plans.

He adds he has not decided whether to accept the offer and is “praying for something more interesting” to come along.

Speaking from Nimes Olympique, on the eve of what would turn out to be his final game for Nantes, Sala said after four years at the club: “They don’t respect me, they don’t value me.

“I haven’t made a decision… I went to get some information from this club that wants me and wants to value me for what I’m worth… I’m going to be 29 this year so I have to think about it.”

Meanwhile, the priest at the church where he worshipped said the footballer was treated as “a toy” who had little or no control over the direction his career was taking.

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