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Gaga Slonina to join Chelsea

The 18-year-old will finish this season in Chicago.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Chicago Fire FC Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Gaga Slonina has found his next destination. According to multiple reports, the Chicago Fire’s 18-year-old homegrown prodigy will join Chelsea FC on a transfer for an estimated fee of $10 million, with add-ons bringing it up to $15 million; the young goalkeeper has been tracked by all of the top clubs in Europe after he won the starting job with the Fire nearly a year before his eighteenth birthday. Slonina’s transfer will include a loan back to the Fire, initially 5 months running through the end of the 2022 season in Major League Soccer. He would join Chelsea on January 1st.

Chelsea beat out a number of juggernauts, including Real Madrid, for the signature of the Addison, Illinois native. The West London club are looking for their long-term replacement for Édouard Mendy and view the American prospect as a valuable investment. Recent reports out of England have suggested that current backup Kepa Arrizabalaga may soon leave the club, so the pathway to minutes in the first team may not be too farfetched.

The $15 million fee will be the largest sum that the Fire have ever received and among the largest ever received in MLS for a homegrown player. Slonina is the next American teenager to move to Europe in the last 12 months, following in the footsteps of players such as Ricardo Pepi, Kevin Paredes, Justin Che, and Jonathan Gómez.

It should be no surprise that Slonina has garnered so much attention; he is the best 18-year-old goalkeeper in the world and has kept 10 clean sheets from the first 23 matches this season. Slonina has earned numerous looks with the US Men’s National Team, including a call-up to the World Cup Qualifiers in January. Slonina will use the rest of this MLS season to make his case as to why he should be on the plane to Qatar as one of the three goalkeepers for the United States amidst stiff competition which includes Matt Turner, Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, and Sean Johnson.

MLS: Toronto FC at Chicago Fire Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports