Chelsea are closing in on their first signing of the summer and are on the verge of wrapping up an £8.5million deal for Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, according to reports.
The 18-year-old is one of the highest-rated youngsters in Major League Soccer and has made a massive impact since making his debut last year, becoming the youngest starting goalkeeper in MLS history in the process.
He turned down a call-up from Poland last month and instead declared his wish to represent the United States, who he has played for up to Under-20 level.
Slonina’s excellent performances have alerted a number of European clubs, with Real Madrid and Chelsea the two biggest names vying for his signature.
The Spanish giants appeared to hold the advantage but saw their opening offer rejected by Chicago Fire, creating an opportunity for Chelsea to swoop in.
According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, the west Londoners are now ‘really close’ to completing a deal and are pushing to get the transfer completed as soon as possible.
Unlike Real, talks between Chelsea and Chicago are progressing well and there is growing optimism that a deal could be completed quickly – which would make Slonina the club’s first signing of the summer.
He would also be the first signing of the Todd Boehly era and may signal a shift from the American-led consortium to scooping up some of Major League Soccer’s best young talent.
The deal for Slonina – who goes by the nickname ‘Gaga’ – is expected to cost around £8.5m and he will likely be loaned straight back to the Fire to continue receiving regular first-team football.
While the teenager is very much a signing for the future, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is keen to strengthen his side right now and has prioritised defence as an area of immediate concern.
Having lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers, the Blues are looking to bring in two new centre-backs with Jules Kounde, Josko Gvardiol and Presnel Kimpembe all on their wish list.