Chelsea are hopeful they can pip Real Madrid to the signing of MLS sensation Gabriel Slonina, and his arrival would see the die cast for an expensive flop.
The teenager is one of the hottest prospects American football has produced in recent memory. At just 18 years of age, Slonina is already a regular between the sticks for MLS side Chicago Fire.
Slonina set two records last August when becoming the youngest player to both start an MLS match and keep a clean sheet in the American top flight.
He’s already received recognition at Under-20 level with the USA national side, and per the Guardian, is the subject of a battle between Chelsea and Real Madrid.
The outlet stated Chelsea first tried to sign Slonina in February but saw a move fail to materialise. Real Madrid had a bid of unknown quantity rejected last week.
However, the two clubs are unwilling to take no for an answer and both remain intent on securing the coup.
Fabrizio Romano contributed to the Guardian article and added further information on Twitter.
The transfer guru suggested the coming days will be important in determining Slonina’s future, thus suggesting we might not have to wait long to find out who wins the transfer battle.
He confirmed Chelsea are in talks with Chicago Fire over the stopper and concluded a ‘decision will be made soon’.
Romano also added that should Slonina move, he’ll command one of the highest fees an MLS side has received. The current record is held by Atlanta United who sold Miguel Almiron to Newcastle for around £21.6m.
Gabriel Slonina to spell the end for Kepa?
Kepa Arrizabalaga still holds the title for the world’s most expensive goalkeeper. However, despite his lofty £71.6m price tag, his days of being a starter at Chelsea are long gone.
The Spaniard is a distant second to the superb Edouard Mendy in goal. If Slonina is signed, Kepa’s days as being chief back-up would be numbered.
The Blues may be reluctant to stifle Slonina’s development by rooting him to the bench straight away. As such, a loan deal may hand Kepa a temporary reprieve.
But at only 18 and already cultivating a sparkling reputation Stateside, his arrival can only mean one thing for Kepa in the long run.