After days of reports, rumors and speculation, Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gaga Slonina has joined Chelsea, it was announced on Tuesday.
According to several reports, the transfer is a club-record $15 million.
As part of the transfer agreement, Slonina will remain with the Fire on loan through the rest of the 2022 MLS season before joining the English Premier Soccer League side.
Slonina, 18, became the youngest Fire player to sign with a team in a top‑five European league.
“I joined this club with ambitions of playing at the highest level and it’s been a dream come true to wear the Chicago Fire jersey,” Slonina said in a statement. “This club has become my second home, my second family, and there are so many people that have played a big role in helping me get to where I am today. I’m so thankful for all the support that I’ve received from my family, coaches, teammates, and everyone associated with the club. It’s been an incredible honor to work alongside each one of you.”
“To the fans, I want to thank you all for supporting a local boy from Addison. You have inspired me to work my hardest day in and day out. I promise that I will continue to give everything in these final 11 games to help get us back into the playoffs and compete for a championship.”
Slonina joined the Chicago Fire youth system when he was 10-years-old before signing a professional contract with the first team on March 8, 2019. At 14, Slonina became the second-youngest player signing in MLS history behind Freddy Adu and the youngest Homegrown signing in League history at the time.
“We’re very proud and happy to see Gaga reach this milestone moment in his career,” Fire sporting director Georg Heitz said in a statement. “Since joining the Club, Gaga has embodied what it means to be a Chicago Fire player. In addition to his incredible talent, he is mature beyond his years, extremely hard working, and a fantastic teammate. Gaga is a role model to many young aspiring footballers in Chicago, and this transfer demonstrates that a player can progress to the first team from our Academy before joining one of the biggest clubs in the world.”