Gabriel Slonina flies into London to join up with Chelsea for first time - Fabrizio Romano
Gabriel Slonina has flown in to spend some time at new club Chelsea now that the MLS regular season is over, Fabrizio Romano reports.
The 18-year-old was signed on 2 August but remained with his club Chicago fire on loan as the American season was still ongoing, and is expected to officially join the Blues at the start of 2023.
He was part of a concerted push by the new Todd Boehly regime to spare no expense in going after upcoming talent, with £20million spent on Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa, as well as £75million to prize Wesley Fofana from Leicester for the first team.
Slonina cost $15million (£12.3mill) when he was brought in as part of a crop who are not slated for immediate involvement with the senior side, alongside Cesare Casedai from Inter who cost around the same, and Omari Hutchinson who was secured from Arsenal.
The teenager goalkeeper will be getting accustomed to his new surroundings for just under two weeks before returning to the US for a national team camp.
Despite his age he started 32 league games this season, keeping 12 clean sheets.
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It might be early days, and surely he has far too little time to make a proper impression on Graham Potter in the 13 days he will spend around Cobham with his new teammates, but he joins the club at a time when the situation at his position is unclear.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is currently back in the starting XI despite the world’s most expensive keeper largely struggling in his time at Stamford Bridge.
When Edouard Mendy was signed two seasons ago he immediately became the undisputed starter, and it seemed only a matter of time before the more expensive man would be shipped once soon as somebody came up with a suitable offer.
But the Senegalese international’s own form has dipped lately, and he hasn’t come straight back into the team after injury under the new manager.
So the opportunity is there to be grasped if Slonina is able to impress once he arrives full time, as he has a decent amount of senior experience already.
Granted, the MLS and the Premier League, or Champions League, might be different levels but if both the senior options are considered shaky then there may be no harm in the youngster continuing his development from early on.
With Boehly and Potter in the positions of power now the youngsters seem to have as good a chance as ever to break through.
Goalkeeper is often a position reserved for more experienced players, but Chelsea have spent considerable money on a number of ones for the future, and they will no doubt hope that future is sooner rather than later.
In other Chelsea news, the club have to learn the lessons of Tammy Abraham to make the most of Armando Broja.