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Football London
Football London
Scott Trotter

Gabriel Slonina Chelsea transfer plan becomes clear as Mauricio Pochettino faces keeper decision

Gabriel Slonina has kept more clean sheets than anyone else at the under-20 World Cup but the USA have now found themselves out of the competition. The United States fell to Uruguay in the quarter-final on Sunday with the Blues' only representitive left in the tournament being Cesare Casadei, the current top goalscorer.

For Harvey Vale, Carney Chukwuemeka, Bashir Humphreys, Teddy Sharman-Lowe and Slonina, a summer break will arrive before they return for pre-season and decisions are made over where they will develop next season. Andrey Santos, whose Brazil lost to Israel in the quarter-final, remains on loan to Vasco da Gama until the end of the month.

Alongside Santos, Slonina is set to start his first pre-season with Chelsea. Looking back 12 months ago, Slonina was a first team footballer for the Chicago Fire drawing interest from west London and Real Madrid. The goalkeeper is just 19 and has already become the youngest goalkeeper to start for the US men's national team after continuing on loan in the MLS after completing his transfer to the Blues.

READ MORE: Chelsea's Manuel Ugarte transfer decision sets new Mauricio Pochettino priority signing

Slonina's experience since arriving at Cobham has been to guard Chelsea's development squad net and he has already impressed. The American star was present as third goalkeeper consistently in the latter stages of the season, providing assistance to Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy when warming up ahead of Premier League games.

The youngster has acknowledged that he has been required to make an adjustment since departing for west London. Chelsea's plan is part of what has impressed Slonina, suggesting that his next steps may already be laid out for him.

Slonina said: "When Chelsea gained interest and started to want me to sign to the club that was a huge milestone for me. The development plan that they showed me and how their coaching staff was super engaged and showing me where I need to improve was part of the reasons I wanted to go there. For me, that was the most important thing, having that sense of comfort knowing that I'm going to a place that really wants me there.

"I got a good stretch of games in the MLS but now training with guys that are playing in the Premier League is a big different level. Being around that type of environment I think I have to adapt to it, to start to perform in training and in games, I need to adapt to that level, it's only making me better."

It has long been noted that a new goalkeeper is among Chelsea's priorities with both Kepa and Mendy's futures coming under scrutiny and the possibility of one or both departing, should a replacement No.1 be found. It may be a moment too soon for Slonina to take advantage and the Blues have shown before with Casadei, they have preferred to ensure there is a smooth transition to life at Chelsea.

The Italian midfielder also enjoyed his first half of a season with the Blues before heading on loan to Reading and has since lit up the under-20 World Cup. Given Marcus Bettinelli has signed a contract extension to retain his spot as third goalkeeper, a loan seems most likely for Slonina next.


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