Real Madrid have had a bid rejected for Chicago Fire FC and US youth international goalkeeper Gaga Slonina, sources tell MLSsoccer.com.
The offer didn't match Chicago's valuation, and the MLS side responded with a counter offer. Slonina's preference is to join Madrid.
Slonina's agent, Jaime Garcia of Starting XI Player Management, told MLSsoccer.com that Slonina "cannot say no to Real Madrid" and hopes an agreement can be reached between Chicago and the La Liga giants.
"It should be an honor for Chicago, and MLS, to have Real Madrid take notice in one of their players," Garcia said. "We are hoping Chicago can find an agreement with Real Madrid to realize Gabriel’s dream of playing for this club."
The offer was Madrid's opening bid for Slonina. Chicago responded quickly with a counter and are expecting another bid from Madrid. Slonina's contract expires after the 2023 MLS season.
"With respect to other clubs and other offers – we’ve received many and we are gracious to those clubs – but you cannot say no to Real Madrid," Garcia said.
Chelsea, Wolverhampton and Southampton are among clubs who have held talks for Slonina as well, but the goalkeeper has made it clear his top choice is Real Madrid.
"This has the potential to be a great situation for everyone – but the MLSPA and agents need to work together to protect these players," Garcia said. "Clubs can't ask for exorbitant fees. These younger players have high hopes and dreams and we can’t forget that sports aren’t just business. I think we have a duty of care to these players as people first; when the person is at the forefront it’s always easy to find solutions on the back end."
Chicago don't feel they're being out of line with the market value, given the vast interest and Slonina's reputation as one of the best teenage goalkeepers in the world. Chicago also want to see Slonina move onto one of the world's biggest clubs as a product of their academy and first team.
Slonina, who just turned 18, has started all 14 games for the Fire this season and has five clean sheets. After a hot start to the season, form for both Slonina and the team has dipped over the last month as the league enters the June international break.
Since becoming Chicago’s starting goalkeeper late during the 2021 season, Slonina has nine clean sheets across 25 matches. He originally signed his first professional contract at the age of 14, among the youngest ever in MLS. A potential dual-national with Poland, he was called into Poland's senior national team in June but opted to pledge his international future to the United States.
Real Madrid’s starting goalkeeper is Belgian star Thibaut Courtois. In recent years, they’ve also had Spanish all-time great Iker Casillas and Costa Rican legend Keylor Navas between the sticks. The club just won La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, defeating English club Liverpool in the final.
Slonina was named to Goal.com’s NXGN 2022 list this winter, recognizing the top 50 players in the world born on or after January 1, 2003.