Chelsea have signed 18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from Major League Soccer (MLS) side Chicago Fire this summer.
Slonina has signed a six-year contract with Chelsea. The teenage goalkeeper will return to Chicago to complete their ongoing season before moving to West London at the start of 2023, the Blues confirmed in an official release.
Chelsea have reportedly paid around $15 million for Slonina, which is a new record deal for an American goalkeeper, according to Goal.com.
Slonina will be joining a number of compatriots in England once he officially moves to London, with other national team members – Matt Turner, Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath – already tied to Premier League sides Arsenal, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest respectively.
Considered one of the most promising soccer players in the U.S., Slonina became Chicago’s youngest signing when he agreed to a professional deal with the club in 2019, aged just 14. The glovesman also holds the record for being the youngest goalkeeper ever to start an MLS match, having made his debut for the Chicago club as a 17-year-old in August 2021.
Slonina has also represented the national team at several youth levels, while he received his first senior international call-up in December, being named on the bench for the USA’s 1-0 friendly win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Chelsea reportedly beat the likes of Wolves, Manchester City and Real Madrid in the race to sign 18-year-old Slonina.
“We’re very proud and happy to see Gaga [ reach this milestone moment in his career. Since joining the club, Gaga has embodied what it means to be a Chicago Fire player. In addition to his incredible talent, he is mature beyond his years, extremely hard working and a fantastic teammate,” Chicago Fire’s sporting director Georg Heitz said in a statement.
“Gaga is a role model to many young aspiring footballers in Chicago, and this transfer demonstrates that a player can progress to the first team from our academy before joining one of the biggest clubs in the world,” added Heitz.
Slonina, who made his senior debut in 2021, has represented Chicago 34 times and has kept a clean sheet 13 times so far.