TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Transfer
The 18-year-old reportedly exits for up to $15 million with add-ons ($10 million base), amounting to a Fire FC-record transfer and one of the largest outgoing fees for an MLS youth product.
Slonina will spend the remainder of the 2022 MLS season on loan with Chicago before joining Chelsea at the start of 2023. He’s penned a six-year contract with the Blues through 2028, and Chicago retain a percentage of any future transfer fee Chelsea receives for Slonina.
“We’re very proud and happy to see Gaga reach this milestone moment in his career,” Chicago sporting director Georg Heitz said in a release. “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. 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.”
Slonina, upon turning pro in March 2019 as a 14-year-old, was the second-youngest player signing in MLS history. During the 2021 season, he became the youngest goalkeeper in MLS history to notch a clean sheet, a win and a start.
“I joined this club with ambitions of playing at the highest level and it’s been a dream come true to wear the Chicago Fire jersey,” Slonina said in a release. “This club has become my second home, my second family, and there are so many people that have played a big role in helping me get to where I am today.
“I’m so thankful for all the support that I’ve received from my family, coaches, teammates, and everyone associated with the club. It’s been an incredible honor to work alongside each one of you.”
Slonina becomes the fourth US men’s national team pool goalkeeper on a Premier League club. He was recruited heavily by Poland, but chose the Yanks.
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UPDATE (Aug. 2, 10:20 am ET) – Chicago Fire FC homegrown goalkeeper Gaga Slonina's long-suspected move to English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea is good as done, as reported by MLSsoccer.com's Tom Bogert and others.
It'd reportedly be a club-record deal and see the 18-year-old US international remain in MLS through the 2022 season before heading overseas when the European transfer window re-opens in January.
ORIGINAL (July 30) – All signs point toward Chicago Fire FC homegrown goalkeeper Gaga Slonina soon joining Chelsea, with Fabrizio Romano reporting Saturday evening that a deal with the English Premier League club is nearly complete.
The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio confirmed that original report, adding it’s a $10 million base fee for the 18-year-old US international that could rise in the future. Slonina is expected to join Chelsea in the new year and complete the 2022 MLS season with Chicago.
“There's something close, but nothing has been signed yet so I can't really speak of that,” Hendrickson said in his postgame press conference. “But there's something very close to happening with that.”
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.