Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has defended Bernardo Silva after the FA contacted the club following a Twitter post from the midfielder.
The Portugal international’s social media post involving team-mate Benjamin Mendy was deemed offensive by many and was subsequently deleted, although the FA will investigate.
The left-back seemed to see the funny side of Silva’s joke, but the midfielder could face a ban if charged with racist abuse.
Guardiola vouched for his player’s character, insisting that no offence was meant.
"Honestly, I don't know what will happen,” Guardiola said following Manchester City's win over Preston.
“They should put their focus on another issue because they don't know which guy you are talking about.
"Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I ever met in my life. He speaks four or five languages and that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is and one of his best friends is Mendy. He’s like a brother to him.
"The image is not about the colour of the skin. He took a picture of Benjamin when he was young and he related it to this cartoon, which was quite similar for the image.
"If they want to do that [investigate] and ask for Bernardo, I think he will be open to talk. But first you have to know exactly which person you are talking about.
"There are many situations with people, with white people and you look at a cartoon and the face is quite similar as your face and you put it in there, it is quite similar.
"I think the response from Mendy was clear after that. They are joking all the time. Maybe what I say as advice is to hide social media, if something happened it would be a mistake.
"Bernardo is an exceptional person. A guy who can speak five languages, it’s because he’s open-minded – nothing about the colour of the skin, nationalities or whatever."
Manchester City trail league leaders Liverpool by five points as they seek to retain their Premier League crown for a third successive season and losing Silva would prove a blow to their hopes of closing the gap after his hat-trick in the 8-0 demolition of Watford.
City beat Championship side Preston North End 3-0 to progress to the next round of the Carabao Cup - another competition in which they are reigning champions - and now turn their attention to the league clash with Everton.