Gary Lineker has praised Martin Braithwaite on Twitter after the rumoured Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham target scored twice as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad on Sunday.

The Camp Nou natives began the La Liga term with a 4-2 win at home to the San Sebastian outfit. Gerard Pique broke the deadlock early in the first-half before goals from Braithwaite either side of the break stretched their advantage.

But Real Sociedad set up a nervy finish with goals in the 82nd and 85th minutes to pull within one. Ronald Koeman would not oversee an opening day draw or defeat, though, as Sergi Roberto netted in stoppage-time. Putting Barcelona third in the first La Liga table.

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Braithwaite particularly helped to lift spirits at Barcelona in the wake of Lionel Messi’s free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. The Dane started promisingly with a shot after 23 seconds, and eventually scored with a thunderous header. The 30-year-old then bagged a brace with a powerful drive, before assisting Roberto late on with a superb cross in from the right.

Tottenham and West Ham may have been paying close attention to Braithwaite’s opening day performance for Barcelona. Sport report Spurs have included the 56-cap international on their shortlist of striker targets this summer. While the Hammers agreed a €15m (£13m) fee with Barca last month, but failed to then agree on personal terms.

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Lineker was paying attention to Barcelona’s first competitive fixture without Messi in their squad. And he was full of praise for the Tottenham and West Ham-linked striker, noting on social media: “Barca are three up and Braithwaite is the new Messi.”

Lineker offers tongue in cheek praise for Tottenham and West Ham target Braithwaite

Braithwaite seemingly wowed Lineker with his performance as the Tottenham and West Ham target helped Barcelona beat Real Sociedad. Although his suggestion of the Denmark forward being the new Messi is rather tongue in cheek following the Argentine’s departure.

Nonetheless, Spurs and Irons talent spotters will surely have taken note of how Braithwaite stepped up for Koeman on Sunday. He emphatically finished both of his goals, and laid the ball on a plate for Roberto to score in stoppage-time.

Braithwaite additionally read the flight of the ball perfectly to meet Frenkie de Jong’s cross in the first-half. And had to react quickly for his double when Alex Remiro could only palm Jordi Alba’s cross towards the striker.

But both Tottenham and West Ham will know not to make a snap verdict on Braithwaite after one good performance. The £85,000-per-week forward’s brace matched his tally for the entire 2020/21 La Liga term, in which he offered two goals and two assists in 29 games.