Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina is hot property as the top clubs in Europe switch focus to the transfer market in the off-season. The 18-year-old has turned the head of none other than newly crowned European champions, Real Madrid. Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano confirmed that Los Blancos were preparing a bid for the USMNT youth international.
Romano also stated that both Bayern Munich and Chelsea are interested in the American. Chelsea has held a long-term interest in the youngster but has backed off in recent times as they focussed on sorting out their ownership issues.
For the time being, the wunderkind is concentrating on his performances for the Fire. He had this to say about transfer speculation:
“We don’t really talk about it much with my agent. I’m usually just telling him how I’m feeling every single day. We have such a good connection about that type of stuff. I know he’s working his hardest for me and I’m working my hardest to continue to get those offers. … I like to keep all that stuff out and just focus on the next game because obviously, the next one’s the most important.”
He would almost certainly join Castilla (Real Madrid’s reserve side) if he made the move to the Spanish capital. Although there could be a spot for him on the bench in the first team, with Real Madrid’s backup goalkeeper situation unclear.
He is unlikely to unseat current Madrid number one Thibaut Courtois. Especially after his man-of-the-match performance in the recent Champions League final.
US GOALKEEPERS SLOWLY TAKING OVER EUROPE
Despite holding an EU passport and being eligible to represent Poland, Slonina has declared he will represent the USMNT in international football. If Slonina moves to Europe, he will join a growing guild of goalkeepers from the United States. Particularly in England. If he headed to the UK, he would join Zack Steffen (Manchester City) and Ethan Horvath, who plays for newly promoted Nottingham Forest. Matt Turner would be another compatriot, plying his trade in the EPL with his move to Arsenal imminent.
The Illinois native burst onto the scene last season and has quickly established himself as the Fire’s first-choice goalie.
He has made 25 appearances in the MLS, including 14 this season.
Despite his young age, Slonina fits the profile of a modern goalkeeper. He stands at almost two meters tall, has a good command of his area, and is fairly good with the ball at his feet.
MY TWO CENTS
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Chicago Fire goalie is clearly a prodigious talent, but he is still just 18 years old. He would be better off completing the MLS season and then seeking a move abroad, in my opinion.
If a move occurs, a loan back option would likely be best for his development.
A move to one of Europe’s top clubs is inevitable, so there’s no need to rush things.
Stuart Kavanagh is a sports journalist from Melbourne, Australia. Along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website thepyrrhic.com, he is the co-host of the ‘After Extra Time’ podcast. Football mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.Follow paulmbanks