Chelsea duo Andrey Santos and Gabriel Slonina offer reminder of talent with international exploits

 (AP)
(AP)

Chelsea youngsters Andrey Santos and Gabriel Slonina provided another timely reminder of their respective capabilities on international duty on Wednesday.

18-year-old midfielder Santos is a new arrival at Stamford Bridge, bought from Brazilian outfit Vasco da Gama for £18million as one of six signings made by the big-spending Blues so far in the January transfer window along with Noni Madueke, Mykhailo Mudryk, Joao Felix, Benoit Badiashile and David Datro Fofana.

Seen as a potential star of the future, he has yet to make his senior debut for Chelsea, though continues to offer significant glimpses of that talent and promise by lighting up the 2023 South American Under-20 Championship in Colombia.

Having already netted stylish efforts in opening Group A wins over Peru and Argentina, Santos made it three in three matches on Wednesday night, popping up with a fine header from a free-kick shortly before half-time to earn Brazil a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the hosts at the Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero in Cali.

New Chelsea signing Andrey Santos is lighting up the South American U20 Championship (AP)
New Chelsea signing Andrey Santos is lighting up the South American U20 Championship (AP)

Though primarily a box-to-box or defensive-minded midfielder by trade, such a consistent goal threat could surely make him an attractive option to Chelsea boss Graham Potter earlier than expected, especially with the club on the hunt for further midfield additions and N’Golo Kante and Jorginho both out of contract at the end of the season.

While Santos continues to thrive for Brazil at youth level, Blues team-mate Slonina was busy making history in senior international football.

After being selected by interim coach Anthony Hudson for a 2-1 friendly defeat by Serbia at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, the 18-year-old became the youngest goalkeeper ever to start a game for the United States.

Slonina was one of seven debutants named in the first XI in what was one of the youngest teams ever fielded by the USA in a senior international.

The teenager originally signed for Chelsea in a £12m deal in August after making a huge impact with Chicago Fire, being loaned back to the Major League Soccer (MLS) club for the rest of the 2022 season.

Blues goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina also set a new record as he made his senior USA debut (USA TODAY Sports)
Blues goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina also set a new record as he made his senior USA debut (USA TODAY Sports)

He moved to west London on a full-time basis after the campaign had concluded with a failure to reach the playoffs, with another possible loan move mooted for January.

Standard Sport understands that Chelsea are pondering loans for all of Slonina, Omari Hutchinson and Cesare Casadei, with Bashir Humphreys on his way to Germany with Paderborn.

Slonina’s first-team breakout may be some time away yet, but his record-breaking exploits will have certainly given Potter food for thought ahead of the summer, especially with so much uncertainty also surrounding the goalkeeper position at Chelsea.

The Blues are targeting a new long-term no1 and are ready to offload either Edouard Mendy or Kepa Arrizabalaga this summer, with interest in Brentford’s David Raya.