Gaga Slonina “very close” to joining Chelsea from Chicago Fire FC

Slonina has been Chicago’s starter for roughly a year, enjoying a meteoric rise from a talented youngster to a world-renowned prospect who has posted 14 clean sheets in 34 matches for Fire FC. Remarkably, he turned pro at age 14 back in March 2019.

In May, Slonina also committed his international future to the United States amid heavy recruitment efforts from Poland. Slonina awaits his first senior-team cap, though appeared in several camps as the Yanks booked a Qatar 2022 World Cup spot.

Should the Chelsea deal be formally announced in the coming days, by this upcoming winter he’d join Matt Turner (Arsenal), Zack Steffen (Manchester City) and Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest) as USMNT goalkeepers in England’s top division. Steffen (at Middlesbrough) and Horvath (at Luton Town) are both on loan in the Championship.

Slonina, who’s been compared to Italy all-time great Gianluigi Buffon, has drawn interest from high-profile clubs for the better part of a year. Defending LaLiga champions and UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid were reportedly among them, though Chelsea seemingly pulled ahead in recent weeks.

At the reported $10 million base fee, Slonina’s deal would be among the most expensive all-time transfers for both an American player and MLS homegrown product.

“Something is very close to happening and I think the kid deserves it,” Hendrickson said. “There’s no signature yet or anything so I really can’t speak on details as far as that goes. But I’m happy for the kid and it shows that we have some good talent, some good young talent here in this organization.”

Chelsea, who have USMNT captain Christian Pulisic, count Senegal international Édouard Mendy and Spain international Kepa Arrizabalaga as their top two goalkeepers. The London-based side recently entered new ownership under the guise of Todd Boehly.

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