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Slonina, a young goalkeeper, joins Chelsea before departing for “very proud” Chicago.
Slonina, a young goalkeeper

Gaga Slonina has signed a six-year contract with Chelsea before going back on loan to the Chicago Fire in January.

Since making his Fire debut in August of last year, the 18-year-old has established himself as the most intriguing young goalkeeper in MLS.

When Slonina was 17 years old, he drew with New York City FC while keeping a clean sheet, making him the league’s youngest goalie to ever start a game.

Slonina has gone on to keep 13 clean sheets in 34 appearances and is Chicago’s first-choice keeper, playing every minute of the 2022 campaign.

The United States youth international, who rejected a senior call-up from Poland in May, will play out the rest of the season in Illinois ahead of joining a pool of Chelsea goalkeepers that includes Edouard Mendy.

Chelsea have reportedly paid an initial £8.2million for Slonina, although that fee could increase to £12.3m.

In a statement, Fire’s sporting director Georg Heitz said: “We’re extremely thrilled and proud to see Gaga reach this significant point in his career.

“Gaga has exemplified what it means to be a Chicago Fire player ever since she joined the team.

“In addition to his great talent, he is a fantastic teammate, mature beyond his years, and incredibly hard-working.

“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 added: “I joined this club [the Fire] with ambitions of playing at the highest level, and it’s been a dream come true to wear the Chicago Fire jersey.

“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, team-mates and everyone associated with the club. It’s been an incredible honour to work alongside each one of you.”

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