Ezequiel Lavezzi has issued an apology after a photograph in which he pulls a face to mimic Chinese characteristics went viral on social media.
The Argentina international, who joined Hebei China Fortune from Paris Saint-Germain last year, was pictured making the gesture while in team uniform, prompting criticism from fans who deemed it racist.
"Per the request of the Chinese Super League, we took the official photos for the season," Lavezzi said in a statement. "We were given instructions by the official photographer and I was trying to make some interesting photos by making some funny faces, which would be used afterwards for entertainment purposes.
"I had no intention of insulting the Chinese people and did not do it with any bad intentions. I'm very happy to be here as part of the Hebei club. I have had a great time here with my teammates and it has been a great journey. Every Chinese person around me is friendly and I love my life here.
"I deeply apologise if this photo has offended the Chinese public and fans. I will be more careful in the future."
Lavezzi joined Hebei in February 2016 in a deal reported to be worth around £8.5m per season and, following an injury-curtailed first season, has impressed for Manuel Pellegrini's charges this year, leading the club to fourth in the Chinese Super League standings.