Premier League outfit Chelsea have taken a firm lead in the race for the services of Chicago Fire star Gabriel Slonina, according to reports.
For those not aware, shot-stopper Slonina is currently making a name for himself in his home country of the United States.
This comes with the starlet, at just 18 years of age, having long secured no.1 status with the Chicago Fire, after making his way through the club’s academy over the course of the last six years.
To this point in the current MLS campaign, with Chicago struggling badly at the foot of the Eastern Conference standings, Slonina has nevertheless impressed, en route to clean sheets in five of his 14 appearances.
And such stellar form at such a young age, in turn, is understood to have piqued the attentions of a number of European football’s giants.
Recent weeks have seen two such clubs - in the form of Chelsea and Real Madrid - position themselves firmly at the front of the queue for Slonina, tipped to battle it out for the teenage prodigy ahead of next season.
The latter, it is understood, went as far as to table an offer for his signature last week, only to see the proposal knocked back by the Chicago Fire's board.
And now, it appears as though such a misstep on Real's part is set to prove fatal in their pursuit of Slonina.
This comes with Chelsea on the verge of closing a deal for the shot-stopper.
As per transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, the Blues are 'really close' to clinching Slonina's signing, after tabling a bid worth a sum in the region of €10 million.
Talks, in turn, are progressing between the two clubs, with Chelsea expected to 'get the deal done' over the days ahead.