Premier League • England

Chelsea transfer news: Real Madrid beaten, as Tuchel plan and fee for record-breaker Gabriel Slonina surface

Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina

Chelsea are poised to beat Real Madrid to the signature of MLS sensation Gabriel Slonina, and Thomas Tuchel’s immediate plans will be a welcome relief to one Blues flop.

The 18-year-old has quickly emerged as one of the most promising products American football has produced in recent times. The goalkeeper plies his trade for MLS side Chicago Fire where he has already set two new records.

Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS side last August. He also became the youngest goalkeeper to record a clean sheet in America’s top flight.

Slonina is already the No 1 between the sticks in Chicago despite only turning 18 in May. However, his rapid rise is poised to ensure his time Stateside will soon be up.

Indeed, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claimed Chelsea and Real Madrid were going head-to-head for the stopper.

Real reportedly saw a bid of unknown quantity rebuffed. That left the door ajar for Chelsea, and it’s now claimed they’re on course to win the race.

In a fresh update, Romano tweeted Chelsea are ‘really close’ to signing the goalkeeper. Talks are ongoing and the Blues are hopeful of wrapping up a deal soon. Romano concluded the transfer is expected to cost around £8m.

90min added their take to the story, backing up much of what Romano reported.

Slonina’s immediate future detailed

However, they did add Chelsea’s offer was the best one tabled and also shed light on what Slonina’s immediate future will look like.

Edouard Mendy is the undisputed first choice for Tuchel. Kepa Arrizabalaga warms the bench and often features in the cups, though that is far from an ideal situation for a £71.6m signing.

However, Kepa’s position as chief understudy to Mendy would appear to be safe for now.

90min claimed Chelsea are fully aware Slonina’s development must not be stunted and if signed, a loan spell back to Chicago Fire will quickly be sanctioned.

How high can Gabriel Slonina fly?

While it’s still early days in his career, all the signs thus far are exceedingly positive.

Slonina has been capped at Under-20 level for the USA national side. He has received call-ups to the senior set-up, though is yet to debut.

The fact he is featuring regularly at such a young age is also a huge plus. Goalkeeper is the position above all others where players tend to find their feet far later in their career.

Indeed, Illan Meslier was the youngest regular starter in the Premier League last year and the Frenchman is four years older than Slonina at 22.

What’s more, Slonina has already been compared to Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon by ex-USA stopper, Tony Meola.