CHICAGO (August 2, 2022) – Chicago Fire FC announced today that they have agreed a record multimillion-dollar transfer fee with English Premier League club Chelsea FC for homegrown Chicagoland-born goaltender Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina . As part of the transfer deal, Slonina will remain with the Fire on loan for the remainder of the 2022 MLS season.
The Chelsea deal is the most expensive transfer for a player in the club’s history, as Slonina becomes the youngest Fire player to sign with a team in one of Europe’s top five leagues. Additionally, the Fire will retain a percentage of any future transfer fees Chelsea receive for Slonina.
“We are very proud and happy to see Gaga reach this milestone in her career,” said Georg Heitz, Sporting Director of Chicago Fire FC. “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, works extremely hard and is a fantastic teammate. Gaga is a role model for many budding young footballers in Chicago, and this transfer demonstrates that a player can progress to the first team at our academy before joining one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Slonina, 18, originally joined the Chicago Fire’s youth system at age 10 before signing a professional contract with the first team on March 8, 2019. At just 14, Slonina became the second-youngest player to sign in the league. MLS story behind Freddy Adu. and the youngest Homegrown signing in League history at the time.
“I joined this club with the ambition to play at the highest level and it was a dream come true to wear the Chicago Fire jersey,” Slonina said. “This club has become my second home, my second family, and there are so many people who have played an important role in helping me get to where I am today. I am so grateful for all the support I have. received from my family, my coaches, my teammates and everyone associated with the club. It has been an incredible honor to work alongside each of you.
“To the fans, I want to thank you all for supporting an Addison boy. You have inspired me to work my hardest day in and day out,” Slonina continued. “I promise I will continue to give my all in these Last 11 games to help us get back into the playoffs and compete for a championship.”
The Chicagoland native got his first MLS start with the Fire at 17 on August 4, 2021 in a 0-0 draw with New York City FC, becoming the youngest goaltender in club history. MLS to score a clean sheet, a win and a start. Slonina concluded the 2021 campaign with four impressive shutouts in his first 11 games as a professional.
“It was amazing to see Gaga’s continued growth on and off the court in my first season with the club,” said Chicago Fire FC head coach Ezra Hendrickson. “His talent was showcased, but I was very impressed with his mentality and his drive to constantly improve his game at such a young age. This transfer is a testament to the talent that exists within the Club and our philosophy towards young player development Gaga fully deserves this opportunity and we look forward to ending the 2022 season with him on a high.
In 2022, Slonina appeared in each of the team’s 23 regular season matches, leading the club in minutes played (2070) and starts (23). Overall, Slonina has kept his sheets clean in 10 appearances this season, including five in the team’s first seven matches to start the new campaign. With 11 games remaining in the regular season, Slonina is six clean sheets away from equaling the MLS clean sheet record (16), set by US Soccer Hall of Famer and current Fire broadcaster Tony Meola in 2000.
At international level, Slonina earned his first call-up to the United States Men’s National Team shortly after the end of his remarkable 2021 MLS campaign. He was then called up to the USMNT in January 2022 for qualifying matches. of the FIFA World Cup. Slonina previously represented the United States on the youth stage, earning eight caps at the U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-20 levels.
Slonina and the Fire will return to MLS in the regular season on Saturday August 6 against expansion side Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. CT, the game will be broadcast live on WGN-TV, CF97 Live and broadcast locally in Spanish on TUDN 1200 AM.
Transaction: Chicago Fire FC agrees club record transfer to Chelsea FC for goalkeeper Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina.