Gabriel Slonina: Neuer “comparison crazy to me” – Most valuable goalkeeper born in 2004

By FPL360


Talents Calendar 

Chicago Fire FC goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina has taken Major League Soccer by storm. The 17-year-old goalkeeper was the youngest goalkeeper in MLS history when he debuted in the 0-0 draw against New York City FC on Aug. 4, 2021. Since then, Slonina has added another ten starts and earned four clean sheets. Not surprisingly, Slonina quickly became one of the most talked-up prospects in MLS and, after November’s market value update, the most valuable goalkeeper in the world to be born in 2004.


“I am proud of how this season went,” Slonina said in an exclusive interview with Transfermarkt. “To get that game experience, because, obviously, that is the most important part for a young player.” Slonina was thrown into the deep end ahead of the game against NYCFC, facing one of the most potent attacking lineups in the league. “I felt some nerves, but it was something I prepared for my entire life.”

The 17-year-old found out that day but kept the news for himself. “I didn’t want to tell too many people,” Slonina said. “I told close friends and close family. But I mainly wanted to focus on myself.” It worked; Slonina was solid, earning the first of four clean sheets. 

Talents Calendar 2020: Here is how the players have developed

Juan Cabrera | Germany | Market value: –

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Schalke’s Juan Cabrera was listed as Uruguayan in last year’s Talents Calendar. Since then he has opted for Germany.

Pipi Nakai | Japan | Market value: –

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Pipi Nakai has made the next step at Real Madrid and is now part of the reserve team. But he is still awaiting his debut in Spain’s third division.

Bradley Fink | Switzerland | Market value: –

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Youssoufa Moukoko’s footsteps were not too big: Bradley Fink has been scoring consistently for Dortmund’s U19 side.

Alejandro Iturbe | Spain | Market value: –

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Alejandro Iturbe is slowly being integrated into Atlético Madrid’s first team and has already made the bench once.

Ramen Cepele | Albania | Market value: –

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Ramen Cepele has struggled with some smaller injuries but nonetheless has already featured for Hannover 96 II in the Regionalliga.

Turan Calhanoglu | Germany | Market value: –

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2021 has been a year to forget for Turan Calhanoglu. Hakan Calhanoglu’s cousin struggled with injuries all seasons long.

Kelvin John | Tanzania | Market value: €100,000

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“As soon as I turn 18, I will move to a big club“, said Kelvin John last year. Promise kept, the forward joined KRC Genk ahead of the season.

Bikash Yumnam | India | Market value: €100,000

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Bikash Yumnam continues his dream of moving to Europe. But it has been baby steps for the RoundGlass Punjab FC defender.

Simon Ngapandouetnbu | France | Market value: €150,000

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Born in Cameroon Simon Ngapandouetnbu has opted for France and is still awaiting his debut for Olympique Marseille’s senior team.

Seong-jin Kang | South Korea | Market value: €225,000

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Seong-jin Kang has not just become a regular starter for FC Seoul but an important first team player.

Kluiverth Aguilar | Peru | Market value: €300,000

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That Kluiverth Aguilar would move to Europe was already certain last year. Signed by Manchester City, the right-back is currently under contract at Lommel SK, which also is part of the City Group.

Xavi Simons | Netherlands | Market value: €500,000

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For Xavi Simons the last season was a mixed back. First close to the first team, the talented attacking midfielder has been ignored by Mauricio Pochettino and is currently considering a transfer to another club.

Tommaso Baldanzi | Italy | Market value: €600,000

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Tommaso Baldanzi led FC Empoli’s U19 to the championship in the Primavera and is now part of the first team.

Marcelo Flores | Mexico | Market value: €600,000

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Mexiko, Canada or England: For now Marcelo Flores the talented midfielder has opted for Mexico’s U20 but it is expected that Flores will await a final decision as Canada remains in the mix to secure the services of the 18-year-old.

Ömer Beyaz | Turkey | Market value: €1 million

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In Ömer Beyaz another talented player found the way to the Bundesliga. The 18-year-old Turkish talent has joined VfB Stuttgart.

Patryck | Brazil | Market value: €1 million

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U17 world championPatryck is part of FC São Paulo’s first team but for now still without a game.

Louie Barry | England | Market value: €1 million

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Former Barça talent Louie Barry has made his debut for Aston Villa but is currently on loan at Ipswich Town.

Loizos Loizou | Cyprus | Market value: €1.5 million

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Loizos Loizou has already won his first title with Omonia Nicosia but a transfer to a bigger league has yet to materialize.

Hannibal Mejbri | Tunisia | Market value: €3m

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Hannibal Mejbri is the third player in the calendar to switch national teams. Previously with France, the Man United talent has since made the switch to Tunisia.

Luca Oyen | Belgium | Market value: €3m

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Luca Oyen continues to collect playing time with the first team but has struggled to show the sort of consistency he displayed last season.

Caden Clark | USA | Market value: €3.5 million

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Not surprising Caden Clark will join RB Leipzig this winter. This year the 18-year-old played his first full season with New York Red Bulls with whom he was eliminated in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson | Iceland | Market value: €4.5 million

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Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson has made the next step in his career and has joined FC Copenhagen.

Arsen Zakharyan | Russia | Market value: €9 million


Arsen Zakharyan has developed into a top talent under head coach Sandro Schwarz at Dinamo Moscow and is one of the most important players at the club.

Yusuf Demir | Austria | Market value: €12 million

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Yusuf Demir has fulfilled his wish and joined FC Barcelona where he has already made his debut for the first team.

Slonina did well. But he would not feature again until Sep. 19 against CF Montréal. It was the dying days of the Raphael Wicky era at the club, and with results going against him, the Swiss head coach banished Bobby Shuttleworth to the bench and handed the reigns to Slonina. Chicago lost that game 2-1, and Wicky was gone by the end of the month. 

Slonina: Chicago “was the best opportunity” – Neuer comparison “crazy.”

But Slonina kept his job until the end of the season. “For me, it was the best opportunity,” Slonina said. “I didn’t care that the playoffs were no longer in the picture. I wanted to help the team as much as possible and win every game; that was the goal. It was the mentality I came in with; I used every game as an opportunity.” 

 Talents Calendar Day 5 - Gabriel Slonina

It was almost an ideal situation. Behind a poorly put-together defense, Slonina had several opportunities to shine. The 193cm tall goalkeeper showed the full spectrum of his talent in the final ten games of the season. One thing that stood out was the calmness on the ball and aggression when coming off the line combined with cat-like reflexes. Attributes that were also evident in a young Manuel Neuer. “That comparison is crazy to me,” Slonina said when asked about Neuer. “Neuer remodeled the game. But I want to be far out of the line and use my feet, play like an extra defender for my team. It is what I model myself after. But I take a bit from every keeper.”

Chicago will most certainly undergo a rebuild under new head coach Ezra Hendrickson this winter and might bring in another goalkeeper to compete with Slonina. “I don’t know what the club’s plans are,” Slonina said. “It’s all about proving that you belong in a team and fitting in a system and adapting to the adversity that you face with a new coach.” 

Gavi, Moukoko & Co.: The most valuable players born in 2004

11 Shola Shoretire – Manchester United – Market value: €3m

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As of November 29, 2021

11 Vinicius Tobias – Internacional – Market value: €3m


7 Andreas Schjelderup – FC Nordsjaelland – Market value: €5m

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7 Matheus Nascimento – Botafogo – Market value: €5m

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7 Giovani – Palmeiras – Market value: €5m

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7 Sávio – Atlético Mineiro – Market value: €5m

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6 Julio Enciso – Club Libertad – Market value: €5.5m

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5 Kaiky – Santos – Market value: €6m

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4 Ângelo Gabriel – Santos – Market value: €7m

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3 Mohamed-Ali Cho – Angers – Market value: €10m

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2 Youssoufa Moukoko – BVB – Market value: €18m

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1 Gavi – Barcelona – Market value: €25m

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But what about the future? Slonina has a Polish passport, which could help him secure a move to Europe. “Right now, that’s far in the future,” Slonina said. “I want to show that I belong in this league. But I want to win all the awards in the future, go to Europe and all that. But that is only possible if I put in the work every day.” 

From December 1 to 24, we introduce new players from different countries born in 2003. Area managers, users, and data scouts come into play as experts throughout the series. You can follow all those players by adding them to your TM watchlist




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