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The French club were responding to the news that the 28-year-old's body had been found in the wreckage of the plane that crashed into the English Channel as he flew to Cardiff City following his £15million transfer.
A statement released by the club, for whom he played for four years, read: “FC Nantes had the immense sadness on Thursday to learn that the body found was that of Emiliano Sala. This news puts an end to interminable and unbearable waiting. Emiliano will forever be one of the legends who has written the great history of FC Nantes.
“There are difficult mornings, nightmarish awakenings, where unhappily reality hit us. Emi is gone…
“Emiliano Sala arrived on the backs of the Edre in July 2015 and knew how to win the hearts of the Nantes supporters. With his work, his desire and his kindness without limits, he finished as the club’s top scorer in his three seasons.
“The homages paid to him nationally and internationally match the player and personal that he was. Today, we have lost a friend, a talented player and an exemplary team-mate.
We can’t forget in this drama the pilot and his family and have confidence that the authorities will continue their search.
“For Waldemar Kita, president of FC Nantes: “I don’t have the words. It’s a tragedy, I’m crushed. Emiliano left his mark. That’s why, like many fans, I wish to honour him by retiring the No.9.”
“Nantes, its board, its staff and its players, wish to pass the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson their deepest condolences. We will never forget you Emi.
“He’s an Argentine who never gives up, Emiliano Sala, Emiliano Sala…”
Ligue 1 and 2 games this weekend will also hold a minute's applause before kick-off.
"Tonight and during the whole weekend, we will all be united in paying a last tribute to Emiliano before the matches kick off," LFP President Nathalie Boy de la Tour said in a statement.
Additional reporting: Reuters