The Argentine forward topped Neil Warnock's wish-list and is now set to support the Bluebirds in their relegation battle.
Warnock personally met the 28-year-old, who scored 48 goals in 133 matches for Nantes during his four-year spell at the club, to convince him to join the Bluebirds.
He started the season in great form, scoring 11 goals in Ligue 1 in his first 12 games, but in the last six he has netted only once – against Marseille in December.
Cardiff hope the giant striker will help them avoid relegation this season, as the 3-0 defeat to Newcastle saw them drop two points off safety.
After signing on a three-and-a-half year deal, Sala told the club's website: "I'm very happy to be here.
"It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new teammates and get down to work.
"For me it feels special [to be the Club’s record signing].
"I have come here wanting to work and to help my teammates and the club. I can’t wait to get to work straight away and do everything I can."
And Bluebirds CEO Ken Choo added: "It’s obviously been a long process to secure the services of Emiliano.
"But I’m very pleased that we're now in a position whereby we can confirm his signature and officially announce him as a Cardiff City player.
"We see Emiliano as a significant acquisition and welcome him wholeheartedly to the Capital city of Wales.
"I'm sure all Cardiff City fans will join me in that and we can look forward to seeing our record signing in a Bluebirds shirt."
Sala is set to debut on January 29, when the Bluebirds travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal.
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