Scout Gabriel Slonina: Gaga’s strengths, weaknesses and ambitions

Our pals over at SB Nation’s Chicago Hearth weblog, Sizzling Time In Outdated City, have proudly supplied to reply a couple of questions for us in regards to the newest signing of Chelsea goalkeeper, 18-year-old Gabriel Slonina, the teenager they dubbed “Gaga”.

So who is that this aspiring participant, who fires up the scoring sheets and retains the hearth sheets clear within the course of? What’s his story, his strengths, his weaknesses, and what would possibly the long run maintain for him and the Blues?

Many due to Alex Calabrese for his time and reply. Ensure to provide him a observe on Twitter @mcalabrese12 And take a look at HTIOT too.


WAGNH: Slonina positive comes throughout as a clearly assured, bold and gifted younger participant, however how did {the teenager} come to be the first firefighter? This not often occurs on any flight.

HTIOT: Slonina signed with the membership in 2019, and has been coaching with the primary workforce since he was 14 years previous. He entered the 2021 MLS season as Hearth’s No. 3 goalkeeper, however a season-ending harm to participant, Kenneth Kronholm, means he might be sitting on the bench for a lot of the 12 months. MLS’s lack of relegation performed into Slonina’s hand as a result of when Hearth was eradicated from a playoff match within the fall, the 17-year-old was named a starter for the remainder of the 12 months. The thought was that the ultimate extension of the constructing could possibly be used towards the following season. In that interval, he actually excelled, scoring 4 clear sheets from 11 matches. In 2022, he was booked into the highest spot and was the most effective goalkeepers in MLS this season at simply 18 years previous; He has 10 clear sheets in 23 video games as Hearth pushed a late playoff.

WAGNH: It has been “Gabriel” to date within the English media, however largely “Gaga” on the opposite facet of the pond. Is the surname well-established and generally used? And are there any cross advertising and marketing alternatives accessible with Woman Gaga?

HTIOT: The identical man will let you know that each variations of his identify are positive, however for the membership and the followers right here within the States, he is at all times been gaga. Just like what a novel breed of goalkeeper, having this distinctive title and branding appears becoming. Clearly, when Woman Gaga’s tour visits Chicago later this month, there’s an opportunity for some collaboration!

Chelsea unveil new signing Gabriel Slonina

Picture by Darren Walsh/Chelsea through Getty Photographs

WAGNH: Slonina already matches the Chelsea mildew of dominant and highly effective goalkeepers, however what are his best strengths for the time being?

HTIOT: Slonina has all of the bodily qualities you’d need from a goalkeeper, standing at 6’4″ and managing the penalty space very properly. He is a superb stopper and is understood to have made some actually distinctive saves that are excellent for a spotlight reel. His reflexes are wonderful, and his instincts are second to none. Her among the many MLS goalkeepers.Gaga can be one of the hardworking gamers you’ll ever see, and he has a wonderful mentality and character that makes him a fan favourite in West London.

WAGNH: Quite the opposite, as a result of it is so small, it undoubtedly has quite a lot of room left to evolve. What are his present weaknesses and the place do you see him enhancing as he will get older and uncovered to non-MLS soccer?

HTIOT: The excellent news is that whereas Gaga nonetheless has quite a lot of work to do to achieve his full potential, the areas during which he wants enchancment are the areas that often enhance over time. The most important taking part in space is from the again. He is certified along with his toes, however at the moment his distribution would not be adequate at a stage above MLS. His scenario and choice making will be higher too, however that may include time and expertise.

WAGNH: After asserting USMNTHe’s set to observe within the footsteps of lots of the nice American goalkeepers of the previous 20 years who’ve had success within the Premier League. Amongst them, amongst all of the legends of the positioning anyplace on this planet could be one of the best like Slonina, if any, and who could be a very good comparability with it amongst all of the legends of the positioning?

HTIOT: Legendary American goalkeeper Tony Miola Slonina has typically been in comparison with younger Gigi Buffon, and this comparability, whereas actually extremely praised, does match by way of taking part in type. Among the many American goalkeepers within the Premier League, he’s maybe most much like Tim Howard as a result of he manages to make saves that appear unattainable at occasions, and has elite reflexes. Not like former American goalkeepers in England like Howard, Casey Keeler, Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan and Zach Stephen, who’ve arrived near their qualifiers, Gaga continues to be younger sufficient that he could possibly be reworked into the goalkeeper Chelsea need and is a far cry from that. completed product.

WAGNH: His transfer to Chelsea appears to have been taken as a supply of pleasure by the Chicago Hearth, not least the tens of millions acquired in return, however how do followers really feel about all of it?

HTIOT: Chicago is the third largest metropolis in america, however in virtually all facets, the hearth has carried out considerably poorly over the previous decade. The truth that the academy has produced such an impressive prospect, now destined for one of many largest golf equipment on this planet, is in fact a significant achievement for the organisation, which has positioned nice emphasis on younger gamers. When Hearth followers noticed such a participant coming, they knew it was inevitable that he would go away in the future, and they’re happy with the native boy making his option to a workforce like Chelsea. The Hearth can be in a very distinctive place, as a result of aside from Gaga, there may be one other expertise in goalkeeping, Chris Brady; Slonina’s substitute is already within the membership, and he is additionally somebody who can depart for an eight-figure price after a couple of years.

Chelsea unveil new signing Gabriel Slonina

Picture by Darren Walsh/Chelsea through Getty Photographs

WAGNH: Slonina is about to complete the season with fireplace, then be part of Chelsea in January for the ultimate. How do you see him progressing in London in these first few months, and the way do you see his profession creating after that? He appears to be setting his sights on turning into one of the best on this planet, do you suppose he can get there at Chelsea?

HTIOT: Hearth chief sporting director George Hitz has not dominated out sending Slonina again to Chicago for a second mortgage in January, however these discussions have but to happen. The plan seems to be for him to spend his first few years as a participant creating at Chelsea, whether or not as a reserve or on mortgage elsewhere. Hopefully he can push to begin work at Chelsea in a few years and for the nationwide workforce by the 2026 World Cup, however that additionally will depend on Edward Mendy and the membership’s goalkeeper standing. Slonina has stated on quite a few events that he has ambitions to be one of the best goalkeeper on the planet, and he actually has the expertise to take action.


Thanks once more Alex, and good luck to Gaga and Hearth for the remainder of this season, and hopefully the MLS playoffs too.

And for those who’re nonetheless right here, make sure to watch Gaga’s farewell deal with to the hearth. It is wonderful.