Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala was on a light aircraft that disappeared from radar in the English Channel last night, French police have confirmed.
Air Traffic Control said the aircraft was travelling from Nantes in western France to Cardiff when it went missing.
Concerns were raised when the 28-year-old Cardiff forward failed to respond to messages on social media after reports he had been travelling to the UK on Monday.
The Argentinian made club history when he was bought for a record fee of £18m on a three-and-a-half year deal from Nantes at the weekend.
In one of his last social media posts, he shared a photo with his former teammates, writing “Ciao” and adding heart emojis.
He had played in France since 2012.
A statement from Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman released on Tuesday morning read: “We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night.”
The Alderney lifeboat was launched at 8.50pm to scour an area north of Alderney for the Piper Malibu plane.
The Guernsey lifeboat and two helicopters were also helping in the search.
In a statement Guernsey Police said: “Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 20.23 from Jersey ATC, that a light aircraft had gone off their radar approximately 15 miles north of Guernsey, initiating a major search and rescue operation involving both St Peter Port and Alderney lifeboats. Air Search 1 and 2 HM Coastguard helicopters are also involved in the search.
“The PA 46 Malibu, a single turbine engine aircraft was on route from Nantes in France, to Cardiff in Wales, with two people on board when it was lost off radar as Jersey ATC was attempting to make contact.
“A search model was created on SARIS, based on the likely ditching position, and all search and rescue assets were tasked to the area.
“The search was terminated at 02.00, with all search and rescue assets being stood down, due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility.
“At this time no trace of the missing aircraft had been found.
“The aircraft departed Nantes at 19.15 for Cardiff. The aircraft was flying at 5000 feet. The aircraft on passing Guernsey requested descent. Jersey ATC lost contact whilst it was flying at 2300 feet.
“Air Search 1 and a French rescue helicopter based in Cherbourg, resumed the search of the area at 08.00.”
HM Coastguard said the incident was not in the UK search and rescue area, although it confirmed it had sent two helicopters to help.