Pep Guardiola has strongly defended Bernardo Silva against accusations of racism following a controversial tweet to Manchester City team-mate Benjamin Mendy.
City boss Guardiola was asked for his opinion on the matter after his side opened their bid for a third successive Carabao Cup triumph with a comfortable 3-0 win at Preston.
Silva posted pictures on social media on Sunday comparing Mendy, with whom he also played at Monaco, to the character on a packet of Conguitos chocolates.
Anti-discriminatory body Kick It Out called on the Football Association to take action, referring to the contents of post as a racist stereotype. The governing body has written to City requesting their observations.
Guardiola said: “I don’t know what is going to happen but they should put the focus on other issues. Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I have ever met in my life.
“He speaks four or five languages – that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is – and one of his best friends is Mendy. He is like a brother for him. The image for the two is not about the colour of the skin.
“If they want to do that, to ask Bernardo, we’d be open to talk, but first to do that you want to know exactly which person are you talking about.
“If something happens it would be a mistake because Bernardo is an exceptional person.”
Silva started and Mendy appeared as a second-half substitute in what was a routine City victory in the third-round tie at Deepdale.
Teenagers Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis shone in defence while Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus struck before Ryan Ledson turned into his own net.
City have not lost a tie in this competition for almost three years.
Guardiola said: “I grew up in the Barcelona Academy. At Barcelona from 13 years old they showed me you have to try to win every single game.
“I think this team tried that in the previous season. That is what you have to do – come here, try to win.
“You cannot do what we’ve done in previous seasons if you don’t take every single game seriously and try to win.
“Now we are in the next round. We will see the draw and, I assure you, we will try to win. It doesn’t matter which players play.”