Chelsea have completed the signing of Chicago Fire and United States youth international goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, it was announced Tuesday.
Slonina will continue with the Fire on loan for the remainder of the MLS campaign and head to Stamford Bridge on Jan. 1. He has signed a six-year contract with the London club.
Gabriel Slonina has completed a permanent transfer to Chelsea! ✍️
The 18-year-old joins from Chicago Fire where he will return on loan to complete their season before moving to London at the start of 2023.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 2, 2022
Speaking to Chicago Fire’s website, Slonina said:
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.
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.
To the fans, I want to thank you all for supporting a local boy from Addison. You have inspired me to work my hardest day in and day out. I promise that I will continue to give everything in these final 11 games to help get us back into the playoffs and compete for a championship.
The Chicago Fire FC sporting director, Georg Heitz added:
We’re very proud and happy to see Gaga reach this milestone moment in his career,” he said.
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.
Honoured to join such a massive club with so much history. It’s a privilege to wear the badge of the best side in London.
Thank you to all the fans for the warm welcome. Can’t wait to get started.💙 @ChelseaFC pic.twitter.com/YmShsm1yYj
— GAGA (@GabrielSlonina) August 2, 2022
Slonina has long been considered one of the brightest talents of the Fire’s academy and took over the starting goalkeeper spot with the first team last season as a 17-year-old.
When Slonina made his professional debut, he became the youngest starting goalkeeper in league history at 17 years, 81 days.
The U.S. youth international has made 34 appearances for the Fire, keeping 14 clean sheets.
Slonina has figured multiple times for the U.S. at youth level. In May, he declared his intention to continue to represent the nation despite having a Polish passport through his parents.
The American joins Chelsea as the club’s fourth summer signing, alongside Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling and Omari Hutchinson.
Also on Tuesday, Chelsea announced that they had agreed a deal to sign England Under-19 midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa.