Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/shakenbake11.mp400:0000:0000:14Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/stephbounce.mp400:0000:0000:26Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.There have been other great indications for Curry. Even with all those turnovers, he’s creating a ton of looks for his teammates — 13.5 potential assists per game in this series, up from 8.4 last year.2He also posted 13.5 potential assists per game in the 2015 Finals. A potential assist is a pass that leads to a shot attempt. He’s been the fastest offensive player on the court3Among those playing 10 minutes or more per game. by far. And, so far, he’s been getting considerably more accurate with his shot as he gets deeper into each game, much the way he did in 2015.4He’s made just 33 percent of his shots and 27 percent of his 3-point attempts in first halves of the Finals this year, but he is hitting 61 percent of his shots and 64 percent of his 3s in second halves. Last year, his shooting percentages were basically flat from one half to the next, while in 2015, they got stronger as the games wore on.Following the game, Cleveland star LeBron James was asked whether the Cavs were still trying to feel out the new-look Warriors. “They’re a different team. You guys asked me, ‘What was the difference?’ And I told you. They’re a different team.”James was referring to the addition of Durant. But with Curry playing this well too, even James might not be able to do enough to allow Cleveland to turn things around.Durant is defense-proofWhen the Warriors signed Durant, much was made about how much more space he would have to work with on offense now that he was surrounded by shooters. Game 1 showed how deadly that works out to be in practice. But the other thing Durant adds is the ability to Go Get A Bucket, to take and make tough shots when the defense tightens up in critical moments of the game. That came out in Game 2.Durant had 33 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals and five blocks Sunday night, and he played as well defensively as he has all season. That’s an outstanding line all on its own, but he was also 10-for-15 on contested looks in Game 2, bringing him to 17-for-29 for the series. The Cavs tightened up their defense considerably from Game 1, but with Durant hitting everything he threw up regardless of coverage, it hardly mattered. And strange as it sounds in a game decided by 19 points, the Warriors needed Durant to carry them with those tough shots.“Tonight was a game based on talent,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game when asked about Golden State’s 13 first-half turnovers. “We had a lot of guys play great individually.”Durant was right in the the middle of it, especially early in the game, when he was hitting contested step-backs and keying fast breaks with his defense. And he pretty much put the game away in the fourth quarter when he blocked a Kevin Love post-up on one end and hit a twisting, falling fadeaway over two defenders to put the Warriors up 18 with seven minutes to play. It was an incredible 1-2 sequence that only a few players in the league are capable of putting together. But creating offense out of nothing is Durant’s specialty, especially on contested attempts like that.Coming into the season, our colleague Ben Morris mapped out how Durant adds as much value to the average 2-point shot as Curry does to a 3-pointer. But in Oklahoma City, Durant had generally been getting bad looks and turning them into good ones. In Golden State, he’s finally been getting good shots, but he has shown that he still has the chops to turn bad ones good.That’s a skill the Warriors don’t necessarily have. Even with Curry playing like his old MVP self, he was just 4-for-11 on contested looks in Game 1 and 2-for-7 Sunday night. But that has hardly mattered. With Durant on the roster, this is no longer the team that couldn’t find a way to score in the final 4:39 of the fourth quarter of Game 7 last year. It’s a team that can go get a bucket whenever it needs one.LeBron may be tiredIt never quite seemed like LeBron and the Cavs were about to run away with the game, but for a while at least, things looked like they were going to work. Cleveland was running and gunning, and the offense was working in all the ways it hadn’t in Game 1. James was 8-for-12 for 18 points and 10 assists in the first half, mostly on drives that produced good shots around the rim or open looks for teammates. Throw out a few what-were-they-thinking fouls on Curry in the first quarter, which gave him eight of his 10 free throw attempts in that period, and they might have taken a lead into halftime. But even when they wound up down three at the break, it seemed like we had a game on our hands. Then the Cavs ran out of gas.The first half was played at a pace factor of 119, meaning the full game would have seen 119 possessions if play had kept going at that speed. That’s staggeringly high, and while the game did slow down after halftime, the final pace rating was still 106.4, making it the second-fastest game Cleveland played all season. (The fourth-fastest was a January matchup against the Warriors that Golden State won by 35.) The pace proved to be too much.After his strong opening half, James shot just six times in the second half and just once in the fourth quarter. He was also much less involved overall, letting other players initiate the offense instead of hammering on the drive-and-kick game that had kept Cleveland in it early.But James isn’t simply carrying the offense — he’s also guarding Durant for long stretches, and that hasn’t worked out so well. When James is guarding him this series, Durant is 10-for-17 for 23 points with just one turnover. On the whole, when James is the primary defender, the Warriors are shooting 63 percent against him and scoring 21.5 points per game.James hasn’t been a disaster on defense — the highlight-reel moment where he gets spin-cycled by Curry seems likely to have been a reaction to a double dribble — but he’s also clearly no longer the man-eater he was at his height, when he both carried the offense and was one of the most fearsome perimeter defenders in the league.The Cavs are rich in top-tier role players, but they don’t have a true defensive stopper on the perimeter; Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith have both looked overmatched in the series, which makes James’s job even more demanding than usual. He might just need a breather. So while it was nice to see the Cavs offense operating at a high level again, Cleveland may want to consider slowing things down. OAKLAND, Calif. — Many comparisons in the coming days can and will be made between this year’s NBA Finals and last year’s series. As in 2016, the Cavaliers got pasted in their first two games on the road. And similar to last time, the Cavs will try to find some footing in Cleveland in hopes of bringing the series back to Oakland for at least a fifth game.But aside from the painfully obvious observation — that Kevin Durant is an absolute monster who makes a comeback far more difficult than the one Cleveland pulled off a year ago — the Cavs have another problem: After a relatively poor showing in last season’s finals, Stephen Curry appears to have returned to form.The 29-year-old logged the first triple-double of his postseason career, finishing with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds on Sunday. His game was far from perfect, as he had eight turnovers to go with those gaudy numbers. But as reckless as he was at times, it was hard not to notice how fast and healthy he looked compared to last year’s Finals, where he didn’t have the burst to both dazzle past defenders and finish over them at the rim.In the 2015 Finals, Curry was dangerous when he controlled the ball inside the arc for seven dribbles or more, hitting 55 percent of those shots. But that number fell to 35 percent last year on the biggest stage, as he faltered late in the deciding Game 7, unable to get around Tristan Thompson, Richard Jefferson and Kevin Love — all respectable players, but guys that a great scorer like Curry should be able to put in the blender in 1-on-1 scenarios.That has not been a problem in this series, which is part of the best postseason of his career. He’s not only getting a step on bigger defenders, he’s also knocking down 50 percent of those looks inside the arc once he does.1Yes, if you look closely, you’ll see that Curry almost certainly double-dribbled on the jaw-dropping move he pulled on LeBron James on Sunday.
DeSean Jackson Makes His Teams Better
TeamYearsYear beforeFirst yearLast yearYear after DeSean Jackson makes the offense betterNet yards gained per team passing attempt for DeSean Jackson’s teams, by when he was on the team Net yards per pass attempt counts sacks as pass plays and subtracts those yards from the total passing yards.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com Pass yards5,53540,772 Net yards/pass play5.636.56 DeSean Jackson may seem like a pedestrian NFL wide receiver — very talented but far from spectacular in an era when wideouts regularly post 100-catch campaigns. Since he came into the NFL in 2008, Jackson is 17th overall in receptions and 15th in touchdown catches.But Jackson, now with Philadelphia, has led the NFL four times in yards per receptions, including last year for the Buccaneers at age 32. That’s more than any other player in NFL history.1Since 1932, when the NFL began keeping individual statistics. And his electrifying speed seems to dramatically enhance his team’s overall passing game. Having Jackson in uniform has boosted the yards per pass play of his teams. And when he’s gone, his former teams have quickly lost these games. That bad news for Tampa Bay, Jackson’s team last year, which had the 23rd best season in the statistic since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.Jackson’s newest quarterback noticed quickly that Jackson’s ability to take the top off the defense by getting behind the secondary makes the rest of the field easier to attack. Defenses have no choice but to play deeper.“(This) takes pressure off all the other guys,” Carson Wentz said. “He’ll open up a lot of things underneath, we truly believe. … He just threatens defenders in a different way.”Still, teams seem to have a hard time reconciling Jackson’s team value with his often underwhelming personal statistics. Since he broke into the league, he’s been on four squads, if you count his two stints with Philadelphia.Jackson’s nomadic career makes it easier to quantify his impact. This effect can be seen at the team level when looking at how they perform during Jackson’s stay there compared with before as well as immediately after he leaves. Tampa Bay2017-18.104.22.168? Philadelphia2008-1322.214.171.124 Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com Yards per pass by when Jackson joined the team Washington2014-126.96.36.199.5 StatWithoutWith Pass attempts8615,478 Jackson’s active-and-inactive effect is even more pronounced than the difference before and after he joined his teams, at 1.03 yards per pass play.Not surprisingly, given the impact of yards per pass play on wins and losses, Jackson’s teams with him inactive are 8-15 (.348 win percentage) compared with 75-76-2 (.497) when he plays.It’s also possible that the effect Jackson seems to be creating for his team is really just a result of his own efficiency. After all, he’s averaged 9.7 yards on the 1,057 passes he’s been thrown in his career, counting incompletions.But last year, Jackson’s ability to threaten defenses deep did seem to significantly benefit his team’s primary receiver. Mike Evans averaged a career-best 11.0 yards every time a pass was thrown his way, a startling 2.4 yards greater than his prior season high (in 2014). And Evans was thrown the ball 138 times, nearly twice as frequently as Jackson (74 targets). For Washington, Jackson’s tight end teammate Vernon Davis (2016) boosted his yards per target by over 3.0 yards from the prior year. And another Washington tight end, Jordan Reed, averaged 7.8 yards per target with Jackson from 2014 to 2016 and since has dropped to just 6.5. During Jackson’s last stint in Philly, Riley Cooper averaged 9.9 yards per target, 10th-best in the league that year. But the next year, without Jackson, that collapsed to 6.1. Cooper has been out of the NFL since 2015.The question now is whetherJackson can be expected to maintain his fleet feet entering his age-33 season. The Eagles sure seem to think so, awarding him a three-year, $27.9 million contract this offseason with more than half the money guaranteed.Jackson’s 18.9 yards per catch in his age-32 season was third-most since the merger (minimum 40 catches). The average age-33 season of the other seven receivers with more than 17.0 yards at age 32 was 53 catches for 769 yards. Two of them, Irving Fryar and Frank Lewis, subsequently made the Pro Bowl. Another, Steve Smith, had two 1,000-yard seasons. But unlike Jackson, none of these other seven receivers led the NFL in yards per reception even once, never mind a record-setting four times.While there’s no way to know for certain the player the Eagles have, there’s little question about what Jackson has been so far in his career. The numbers in Jackson’s last year with his teams are especially noteworthy. Among all teams since 1970 — that’s out of 1,445 team seasons in the period — they rank 57th (2013 Philadelphia), 32nd (2016 Washington) and 23rd (2018 Tampa Bay) in yards per pass play.2Using net yards per attempt, which counts sacks as pass plays and subtracts those yards from the total passing yards. This means each one finished in the 95th percentile or better.Each of Jackson’s teams immediately gained in passing efficiency once he arrived. And both Philadelphia and Washington significantly declined once he left, by nearly 1 yard net per pass play. To put that into context, ranking last year’s teams by that measure, just 0.9 net yards per attempt separated the ninth-ranked Colts (6.7) and the 25th-ranked Lions (5.8). Those teams were 10-6 and 6-10, respectively, which is not surprising given that teams that win the yards-per-pass-play stat by any margin have won about 74 percent of games since the merger, according to my reporting for The Wall Street Journal.Of course, it’s possible that these teams became more prolific at passing coincidentally upon Jackson’s arrival, via coaching, play-calling, quarterback performance or the skills of the team’s other receivers. Jackson has struggled with durability during his career, missing nine games in his first stint with the Eagles, eight with Washington and six with the Buccaneers. So if there is a significant Jackson effect, it should be apparent when looking at his team’s performance when he plays versus when he’s inactive. And it is: The splits on Jackson’s teams when he’s on and off the field
Victory could put senior class in OSU record books
NEW ORLEANS — A victory in tonight’s Sugar Bowl would not only give Ohio State football back-to-back BCS bowl victories, but the 2010 senior class would also claim its 44th win and tie the program record for wins. The 2010 seniors hope to emulate the record-holding 2009 senior class, which ended its collegiate career in a blaze of BCS glory, defeating Oregon 26-17 in the Rose Bowl for its 44th win. The 2009 seniors “were proud of that record,” said wide receiver Grant Schwartz. “I would have liked to break it, but definitely looking forward to trying to tie it.” Linebacker Ross Homan echoed Schwartz’s sentiments. “This is our last hooray,” Homan said. “We want to go out on top.” Defensive end Cameron Heyward was sentimental about his OSU playing days. “It’s just been a fun ride,” Heyward said. “I can truly say that I’ve enjoyed my four years to the fullest.” The 2010 seniors have provided an unblemished 4-0 record against Michigan, four Big Ten titles and a fourth consecutive BCS bowl appearance. Before touching down in New Orleans, Homan talked about the preparations that will hopefully get him and his classmates their 44th win, as well as a Sugar Bowl championship title for Buckeye Nation to celebrate. “The seniors that we have, I think it’s going to be more of a business-oriented trip,” Homan said. “We’ll take it a lot more serious.”
Ohio State shells out 8M to play nonB1G teams
By the end of Ohio State football’s 2013 non-conference schedule, OSU will have paid non-Big Ten visitors more than $8.1 million in guaranteed money for playing at Ohio Stadium during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. That’s several million dollars more than several Big Ten teams paid non-conference visitors during the same period. It’s almost $1 million more than Alabama, the reigning national champion, paid during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Still, the athletic department and a sports economist agree that more than $8.1 million in guaranteed money is typical. Recipients of the more than $8.1 million to be paid by OSU include Akron, Toledo, Colorado, Miami (Ohio), Central Florida, California and Alabama-Birmingham. The Buckeyes football team went 7-0 in those contests. Vanderbilt, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Buffalo will be paid for playing at Ohio Stadium in 2013. It might sound like a lot, but the money OSU is dishing out to its non-conference foes is standard, said OSU associate athletic director for finance Pete Hagan. Due to the size of Ohio Stadium, which typically seats more than its listed capacity of 102,329, OSU is able to pay more to visiting non-conference teams, Hagan said. He added that OSU’s contracts with non-Big Ten teams are still competitive with the rest of the league. “We make more money off of a home football game, therefore we can pay someone a little bit higher for a one-time appearance in Columbus … because of the size of our stadium,” Hagan said. “If you contacted a lot of the other Big Ten schools, they’re paying very similar guarantees to non-conference schools … Most of (the contracts) are pretty standard as far as the flat guarantee, the number of tickets we make available for them to purchase. There really isn’t much difference from contract to contract.” OSU paid nearly $2.3 million to Akron and Colorado during the 2011 season. The amount of guaranteed money paid to Toledo was not available, said OSU athletics spokesman Jerry Emig in an email to The Lantern. For its recently completed slate of non-conference home games in 2012, OSU’s four opponents netted a total of $2.8 million, Emig said in an email. Next season, OSU will pay Vanderbilt, FAMU and Buffalo, paying a total of nearly $3.1 million. Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., said the amount OSU has paid during the three-year period is a lot of money but is typical in modern college athletics. “Ohio State only has so many games it can play in the Big Ten,” Zimbalist said. “It needs to have out-of-conference games at the beginning of the season. At the beginning of the season, it wants to have games against weaker opponents so it can get itself in condition. So these are all factors that go into those fees. “Again, I think for any of the automatic (Bowl Championship Series) qualifier conferences, ($8 million) over three years might be on the upper end, but it’s certainly within the normal range.” Normal happens to be more than No. 1-ranked Alabama football paid to its visitors during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Alabama paid nearly $4.2 million to its non-Southeastern Conference opponents during the two-year period to the nearly $5.1 million OSU paid out to non-conference opponents during the same period. The range within the Big Ten varies widely – OSU’s Saturday opponent, Nebraska, will pay almost $4 million to its non-conference opponents during the three-year span from 2011 through 2013, which began with its inaugural season in the conference. Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium (capacity of more than 81,000) in Lincoln, will host nine non-Big Ten teams during the three-year period. Beyond Nebraska, analysis of three additional Big Ten programs – Iowa, Illinois and Purdue – during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons shows payouts that fall several million dollars short of OSU’s. Iowa will pay the nine teams visiting a total of more than $5.4 million while Illinois will pay a total of more than $5.2 million to its 10 non-Big Ten opponents. Purdue will pay a total of almost $4.4 million to its nine opponents. All other Big Ten schools did not respond to The Lantern‘s record requests for football contracts for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. Respective Big Ten respondents also each have smaller stadiums than the Buckeyes’, and OSU’s senior associate athletic director Ben Jay said teams with smaller stadiums simply can’t pay as much. Money paid to non-conference opponents is based on a team’s on-field history, Jay said, as well past contract guarantees. “It’s going to vary even within the Big Ten. Those folks in the Big Ten who have smaller stadiums … certainly can’t pay the kind of big guarantees and get the kind of opponents that we can,” Jay said. “We’re still kind of trying to stay within … what we envision as the reasonable range to pay for certain opponents.”
Football Billy Price and Denzel Ward named firstteam AP AllAmericans Nick Bosa
Ohio State senior offensive lineman Billy Price (54) prepares to snap the ball in the fourth quarter of the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 2 in Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorBuckeye Grove will be adding a pair of trees to its ever-growing garden. Ohio State redshirt senior center Billy Price and junior cornerback Denzel Ward were named first-team All-Americans by the Associated Press on Monday. Since those two were honored as first-team All-Americans, they will have a tree planted with a plaque recognizing them for the honor.Sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa was named a second-team All-American.Price has won his fair share of awards this season. He was recognized as the Rimington Trophy winner, given to the nation’s top center, and was also named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was also named first-team All-Big Ten. Last season, Price was recognized as a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.In his first season as a full-time starter at cornerback after rotating as the third cornerback last season, Ward emerged as one of the top defensive backs in the country and a possible first-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, should he decide to forgo his senior season.Like Price, he was named a first-team All-Big Ten player. Ward was also named a finalist for the Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in the nation. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick won the award. This year, Ward has two interceptions, 15 passes defended, 30 solo tackles — including two for a loss — and seven assisted tackles.Bosa has 32 tackles, 18 solo and 14 assisted, with 14.5 tackles going for a loss. He also recorded seven sacks on the campaign and forced a fumble. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Bosa ended the season as the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, making it the fourth consecutive year an Ohio State player won the award. His brother, Joey Bosa, won it in 2014 and 2015, while defensive Tyquan Lewis won the award in 2016.
Slimani may come back to Sporting
Islam Slimani have been struggling since moving to England as he hasn’t been playing that much at Leicester and the situation didn’t get any better when he was loaned to Newcastle.The Algeria international came to England the season after Leicester were crowned as the Premier League champions but he failed to make an impact there – and he admitted that he may come back to Sporting sooner or later.The former Sporting striker spoke about his future plans and his warm relationship to Sporting as he said, according to Sport Witness:Maguire says United need to build on today’s win George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Harry Maguire wants his United teammates to build on the victory over Leicester City.During the summer, Harry Maguire was referred to as the ultimate…“Sporting is above all and that is the most important thing.”“I love Sporting. If people know me today, I owe it to Sporting.”“It was a very important step in my career. Return? In football, nothing is impossible… I hope to return one day, of course, because we are talking about a club that I like a lot.”
Zidane beats Guardiola as worlds most popular coach
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has beaten Pep Guardiola to be named the world’s most popular coach in the worldIn a voting poll conducted by Marca, the biggest managerial names in world football were rated on the following aspects: trajectory, social media, website, relationship with media, messages, non-verbal communication, supporters, social sportsmanship responsibilities, branded content and leadership.Zidane, who has now guided Real to a record-equalling three consecutive Champions League crowns after last weekend’s 3-1 over Liverpool at Kiev, narrowly beat Manchester City boss Guardiola to top the poll with Massimiliano Allegri completing the top three.New Arsenal manager Unai Emery was fifth, while Ernesto Valverde only came in eighth place in the rankings after guiding Barcelona to a domestic double in record-breaking fashion in his first season in charge.Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.The normally out-spoken Jose Mourinho completed the top 10.Top 10 most reputable coaches in world footballZinedine Zidane – 79.3Pep Guardiola – 78.9Massimiliano Allegri – 78.1Diego Simeone – 75.6Unai Emery – 69.5Jurgen Klopp – 69.1Julen Lopetegui – 68.3Ernesto Valverde – 65.5Mauricio Pochettino – 61.7Jose Mourinho – 58.1
Juventus provide Ronaldo update after stock boom
Cristiano Ronaldo is not a Juve member yet, but all the talk surrounding his transfer have the Italian club’s stocks surging.The publicly traded stocks have risen 11%, as the club is now valued at €825 million. Since no transfer has been made official yet, it prompted the club to release a statement regarding its transfer activity (as per Goal.com):“After the request from CONSOB related to the news published recently on media outlets, Juventus Football Club S.p.A is keen to remind that during the transfer season the club is evaluating several opportunities and will publish adequate information as prescribed by the law,”Quiz: How much do you know about the 2018-19 Serie A campaign? Boro Tanchev – May 28, 2019 Let’s see how deep your knowledge is about the 2018-19 Serie A campaign. Good luck and have fun!The proposed €100 million deal is pending following numerous reports suggesting Ronaldo is on the verge of joining the Italian giants in search for a new challenge in his career. If he were to agree, the Portuguese superstar would earn €30 million per year until he’s 37 with a basic weekly salary of €565.000.Since no contract has been officially signed, Juventus FC wanted to make sure the public is aware in order to comply with international laws. It is expected that a potential deal could be made official during the next week. If Cristiano Ronaldo were to join Juventus, they would immediately become the favorites to win the Champions League next season.
Neymar Mbappe want to stay at PSG
Real Madrid’s hopes of landing either Neymar or Kylian Mbappe appear to have suffered a big blow with the sporting director of Paris Saint-Germain’s youth academy claiming that the star duo intend to remain at the clubThe forwards have been strongly linked with a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu this summer following Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning €112m departure to Juventus this month.But Luis Fernandez, who himself also used to be the manager of PSG, has insisted that both Neymar and Mbappe intend to remain at the French capital for next season.“Neymar has decided to stay at Paris Saint-Germain. He wants to succeed, after not achieving it at the World Cup. I think that he wants to win titles with PSG,” said Fernandez, as stated on Sky Sports.Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.“Mbappe? He stays too. He has said it, one hundred percent. He wants to win the Champions [League] with PSG. Financial fair play? It does not worry me. The important thing is that both Neymar and Mbappe want to stay at PSG.”PSG are set to make Mbappe a permanent addition to their squad this summer, after signing him on an initial loan deal from AS Monaco last summer, for a €180m transfer fee.The deal will make him the second-most expensive player in history behind Neymar, who the Ligue 1 giants signed from Barcelona last summer for €222m.Real have recently released statements declaring that they have not lodged any bids for either player.