Gini Wijnaldum says he finds it “strange” that Pep Guardiola would choose to single out Sadio Mane for diving criticism ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.
The City boss chose to speak about Mane in the immediate aftermath of his side’s 2-1 win over Southampton last Saturday, although he later backtracked .
Mane had just scored a last-gasp winner for Liverpool at Aston Villa on the same afternoon, but he was also booked for diving in the first half of that clash at Villa Park.
The Senegalese has won penalties in Liverpool’s recent victories over Leicester and Tottenham , but Wijnaldum says that with VAR in place this season then there is no place for “divers” to hide anyway.
“I heard what he (Guardiola) said,” the midfielder told reporters, via Goal.com .
“He gave his opinion about us and the way he thinks. Nothing bad in that. That is his opinion. In his opinion Sadio is a diver. What can you say about that?
“I didn’t see the Villa one back, so it’s difficult to give my opinion on that, but I can’t remember Sadio doing it before. Now we have VAR as well, so…
“How many players of ours have had a yellow card for diving? Sadio was the first, I think? So to say that we are divers, I think it’s a little bit strange. That’s my opinion.”
Wijnaldum – who scored Liverpool’s opening goal in their 2-1 win over Genk in the Champions League in midweek – is looking forward to facing City, who could look to stage a repeat of last season’s Anfield tactics as they contained the hosts on the way to a 0-0 draw.
“Maybe they will play different,” he added.
“I think it suits every team if it is a more open game, but it is also a sign of respect if they play differently.”
The Reds would go nine points clear of Guardiola’s side with a win.