It was a tale of two Allans as Newcastle United continued their pre-season preparations at Rangers this evening.

One, Allan McGregor, was the star of the show as Rangers paid tribute to their former goalkeeper, who left the club at the end of last season at the age of 41 after 16 years of service, spread over two spells.

The other, Allan Saint-Maximin, was nowhere to be seen, fuelling speculation that he is edging towards a move to Saudi Arabia.

While Sandro Tonali made his first Newcastle appearance following his summer move from AC Milan, Saint-Maximin’s absence was the most notable aspect of tonight’s game, which ended in a 2-1 away win.

Eddie Howe was insisting he did not want to lose the French winger in the wake of Saturday’s opening pre-season outing at Gateshead, but this is the stage of the summer when a lot can happen in the space of four days. Assuming, as looks likely, Saint-Maximin is not part of the Newcastle squad for the forthcoming Premier League Summer Series in the US, his time on Tyneside is surely coming to an end.

Financially, a proposed move to Saudi side Al-Ahli makes sense for the Magpies, freeing up some much-needed wriggle room within the Financial Fair Play limits to enable the purchase of Harvey Barnes to go through and also allow the club to purchase a couple of defenders this summer. Saint-Maximin has always been a potential match-winner, but the reality is that he has only ever delivered in a handful of matches each season. Increasingly, Howe wants greater a level of consistency, not to mention a more diligent work ethic.

Tonali ticks both of those boxes, hence Newcastle’s willingness to shell out around £55m to sign him this summer. The Italian started on the right of the Magpies’ midfield three, with Sean Longstaff in the central position and Elliot Anderson on the left, and his comfort in possession was immediately apparent as he glided across the heart of midfield.

He started the move that led to Newcastle’s 16th-minute, picking apart the Rangers defence with an incisive through ball that sent Anderson scampering down the middle. He in turn rolled the ball to Miguel Almiron, and the South American opened up his body to stroke a side-footed finish past McGregor.

Tonali’s link-up play with Almiron was a key feature of Newcastle’s attacking play, with the pair taking turns to dart down the touchline ahead of Kieran Trippier, who was his usual energetic and commanding self at full-back, cajoling those around him as if he was playing in a cup final rather than a friendly in the middle of July.

With Trippier, Fabian Schar and Sven Botman all starting, Newcastle boasted three-quarters of the back four that served them so well last season, so it was perhaps no surprise that they made a pretty good job of keeping Rangers’ players out of their 18-yard box until Howe made a series of half-time changes.

Lorius Karius, who started the game after signing a new deal last week, made a routine first-half save from Sam Lammers, before being replaced by Karl Darlow at the interval.

Dan Burn, Bruno Guimaraes, Anthony Gordon and Alexander Isak were also among a group of seven players who came off the bench for the second half, but Newcastle were unable to maintain their momentum after the interval and Rangers levelled in the 64th minute.

Darlow played a risky pass to Guimaraes, who did not seem to realise that Lammers was closing him down, and after dispossessing the Brazilian, the Rangers midfielder rolled home a low finish.

Newcastle were not to be denied though, and claimed a winner with three minutes left. Isak crossed from the left, and Harrison Ashby looped a header over substitute goalkeeper Jack Butland.

Newcastle (4-3-3): Karius (Darlow 46); Trippier (Manquillo 46), Schar (A Murphy 62), Botman (Burn 46), Targett (Gordon 46); Tonali (Miley 46), Longstaff (Guimaraes 46), Anderson (White 62); Almiron (Ashby 62), Wilson (Isak 46), Lewis (Dummett 62).