In Depth

Emiliano Sala: Cardiff boss Neil Warnock shattered by striker’s disappearance

Bluebirds will honour missing Argentine during tonight’s clash at Arsenal

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock has revealed that the disappearance of record signing Emiliano Sala has left him “shattered” and that the past week has been the most difficult of his 40 years in football management.

After signing for Cardiff from Nantes for £15m on 19 January Argentine striker Sala returned to France to bid farewell to his former team-mates.

On 21 January the 28-year-old was set to travel back to the Welsh capital, but after taking off from Nantes with pilot David Ibbotson the Piper Malibu aircraft the duo were on disappeared from the radar near Guernsey.

A search for the missing plane was officially called off on Thursday. Sala’s family are continuing a private search after more than £290,000 was raised via crowdfunding.

Argentinian striker Emiliano Sala joined Cardiff City for a club-record fee of £15m

Getty Images

Most difficult week

Tonight Cardiff City travel to Arsenal for their first match since Sala’s disappearance. The club has confirmed that staff and fans will honour the missing striker by wearing yellow daffodils at the Emirates Stadium.

Speaking ahead of the Premier League clash Warnock, 70, revealed that he has been considering quitting football, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Warnock said: “I’ve been in football management now for 40 years and it’s by far the most difficult week in my career by an absolute mile. Even now I can’t get my head around the situation.

“In an ideal world I don’t think I’d like another game at all. That’s how I feel at the minute. I think football is important but I think it does open up a lot more when tragedy like this happens... the place is so sombre all around the club that it’s almost like we need some sort of a game to get firing again.”

Bamba: Sala was part of us

Even though Sala never trained with his new team-mates Cardiff defender Sol Bamba says the striker was already part of the squad.

“It’s a human tragedy and if you’re human, you’re going to be hurt by it,” said Bamba. “You’re right to feel like that, it’s a tragedy. If you’ve got a heart, you’re going to be affected by it.

“From the minute he signed for us and came to see the boys to say hello, he was part of us, so everyone feels like he is part of the team.

“It was a tough week for everyone, we’ve all been hurt and affected by it. Everyone got together and obviously everyone has been talking to make sure we’re all okay. But it was a tough week.

“I’ve never seen the dressing room that quiet, everyone was so sad and it was a shock really. We have to hope, even if the chances are very slim, but we like to think there can be a happy ending hopefully.”

This week’s Premier League fixtures and TV guide

Tuesday 29 January (7.45pm unless stated)
  • Arsenal vs. Cardiff City 
  • Fulham vs. Brighton & Hove Albion 
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Everton 
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. West Ham United 
  • Manchester United vs. Burnley (8pm) 
  • Newcastle United vs. Manchester City (8pm, live on BT Sport 1
Wednesday 30 January (7.45pm unless stated)
  • AFC Bournemouth vs. Chelsea 
  • Southampton vs. Crystal Palace 
  • Liverpool vs. Leicester City (8pm, live on BT Sport 1) 
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford (8pm) 
Saturday 2 February (3pm unless stated)
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United (12.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Watford 
  • Burnley vs. Southampton 
  • Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town 
  • Crystal Palace vs. Fulham 
  • Everton vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers 
  • Cardiff City vs. AFC Bournemouth (5.30pm, live on BT Sport 1) 
Sunday 3 February
  • Leicester City vs. Manchester United (2.05pm, live on Sky Sports) 
  • Manchester City vs. Arsenal (4.30pm, live on Sky Sports) 
Monday 4 February
  • West Ham United vs. Liverpool (8pm, live on Sky Sports)

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