Chelsea are set to complete the £12million of Gabriel Slonina, who is flying to London to undergo his medical for the Blues.
The Chicago Fire goalkeeper will sign a long-term deal at Stamford Bridge before heading back to Chicago on loan to complete a remarkable breakthrough season in the MLS.
The 18-year-old has kept ten clean sheets in 34 senior games for the US side and Chelsea have fought off competition from Real Madrid and Wolves for his signature.
Slonina could join the Chelsea squad in January when his future will be assessed, but that will depend on the status of the club’s current goalkeepers.
Edouard Mendy will be No.1 again this season but there is doubt over the future of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who’s been heavily linked with a move to Napoli.
David Ospina – who was the club’s first choice stopper – has just left the Italian club on a free transfer.
Alex Meret would be the natural choice to take on the role, though it seems that Luciano Spaletti is eager to bring in a new goalkeeper following Ospina’s departure.
Gianluca di Marzio claims that Kepa – who joined Chelsea for £72m – ‘seeks a new adventure’ after becoming fed up with playing second fiddle to Mendy.
The two clubs are currently negotiating a loan transfer and a deal is getting ‘closer’.
They have ‘agreed’ the salary payments with Chelsea expected to pay ‘three quarters’ of Kepa’s wage.
Napoli and the Blues are still discussing bonuses, with the former aiming to drive down Chelsea’s demands of €1.5m.
Should Kepa leave for the Serie A side, Marcus Bettinelli will step up as second choice at Stamford Bridge.
Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper in MLS history after making his debut in August 2021 at 17 years and 81 days.
Reflecting on his first game, he offered insight into the preparation ahead of the moment his short career had built up to.
“Long before the game, I was doing the preparation work of getting in early, leaving last,” Slonina he said in November last year. “I was trying to do everything properly as a professional to make sure that when I do get that moment, I’m ready for it.”
“Once that moment came when I knew I was going to be playing versus New York, I wasn’t I wasn’t nervous at all,” Slonina recalled. “I woke up to the same routine that I always have for every game, because I had always prepared for every game like I was playing. So it wasn’t anything new. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
“I think once I did get into that game, I was a little bit nervous, I wanted to play well and had that performance anxiety. But once I made that first save, everything started to flow well.”
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