'It was very advanced': Romano suggests Chelsea have missed out on signing a really 'special' talent

Fabrizio Romano added salt to Chelsea’s wounds by labelling Gabriel Slonina as a ‘special’ talent following his failed transfer to Stamford Bridge.

Speaking to Que Golazo!, Romano revealed the extent of how close the Blues were to signing Slonina before talks broke down due to the sanctions imposed upon Roman Abramovich.

Fans of the European champions will have to wait until a new owner is installed before they can start dreaming of the signings they want added to Thomas Tuchel’s squad.

One name that probably didn’t make their list, however, was that of the Chicago Fire goalkeeper.

Who is Gabriel Slonina?

Slonina made his debut for the MLS side last season and since established himself as their number one ‘keeper.

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Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

This is despite being 17-years of age; he can’t legally drink in the UK until the middle of May.

But birth certificates mean very little in football anymore.

If you are good enough, you are old enough.

Evidently, Slonina is worthy of his jersey, having only conceded once domestically so far this term.

He clearly hasn’t been distracted by a potential move to Chelsea, which failed to materialise due to the transfer embargo currently controlling the club.  

“It was very advanced,” said Romano on the goalies’ proposed switch to Stamford Bridge.

“It started at the end of January then discussions were going through the first and second week of February.

“Chelsea were ready to make a proposal around €6.5/7m to Chicago Fire, then the player would’ve been loaned out to Chicago Fire to June or December 2023, as he is playing as a starter, so Chelsea were happy with that solution.

“But because of the sanctions, everything collapses.

“This boy is very special. We know here in Europe it is not normal for a goalkeeper born in 2004. It reminds me of (Gianluigi) Donnarumma, who was playing for AC Milan when he was 16.

“This is why Slonina is really highly rated and I’m sure other clubs will jump in the race to sign him in the summer, because there are many clubs interested.”

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Keeping an eye on the ‘keepers

Chelsea clearly have a thing for young shot-stoppers, as they were linked with Donnarumma last summer.

Paris Saint-Germain landed his signature, although everything has not quite worked out for the Italian at the Parc des Princes.

Slonina would certainly hope for better fortunes if he swapped Chicago Fire for a different team on a different continent.

This is not guaranteed in the slightest, especially as the pool for American players deployed across Europe is relatively small.

Perhaps he could ask Christian Pulisic for some tips on how to survive across the pond.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.