Strong currents and winter weather had forced rescuers to call off the search before locating 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson -- the only other person on the Piper Malibu propeller aircraft
Sala, 28, had been flying from his previous club Nantes in western France to Wales on Jan. 21 to make his debut for the Premier League team when the single-engined Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared over the sea
Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said they were unable to recover the plane and it was closing down the operation.
Sala, 28, had been en route from Nantes in western France on Jan. 21 to make his debut for Premier League team Cardiff City when the plane disappeared over the English Channel.
Sala was flying from France to join up with his new club, Premier League side Cardiff City, when the Piper PA-46 Malibu plane dropped off the radar north of Guernsey.
She thanked Messi, Argentinian teammate Sergio Aguero and fans for their support, calling on her brother to show his fighting spirit.
The decision was met with anguished disbelief by the forward's sister Romina who begged the search teams not to give up.
Hopes of finding football star Emiliano Sala alive were fading on Wednesday, as a recording emerged of a fearful voice message he apparently sent from his stricken plane before it disappeared