Newcastle United have been linked with several Championship players as Rafa Benitez looks to add to his squad ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

The days of United signing Europe’s top players seem to be a distant memory and understandably some fans are questioning the direction of the club as more second-tier names are linked.

Benitez is well aware of the talent in the Championship and, working within his budget, is ready to take a gamble for the right player.

Several players over the years have gone from the Championship to the Premier League - some successful and others not.

Here are five examples of the times Newcastle took the gamble on a lower-league player.

Malcolm Macdonald - Luton to Newcastle United (1971)

Malcolm Macdonald in a rare Newcastle United attack during the ill-fated FA Cup final against Liverpool on May 4, 1974
Malcolm Macdonald in a rare Newcastle United attack during the ill-fated FA Cup final against Liverpool on May 4, 1974

The striker arrived on Tyneside for a fee of a £180,000 after scoring 24 goals in 42 appearances in the 1970-71 campaign. He went on to become one of the most prolific goalscorers in Newcastle’s history netting 95 goals in 187 appearances.

Verdict: SUCCESS

Jermaine Jenas - Nottingham Forest to Newcastle United (2001-02)

Jermaine Jenas
Jermaine Jenas

Joined as fresh-faced teenager who had only made 29 appearances for Nottingham Forest in the first division. At 19 and a cost of £5million, which made him the most expensive British teenager, it was a huge risk by Sir Bobby Robson.

However Jenas excelled under Robson and played a huge part in challenging for the title and Champions League adventures. He left on a sour note when he labelled Newcastle a ‘goldfish bowl’ but can only be considered a success with nine goals in 110 games.

Verdict: SUCCESS

Jamaal Lascelles - Nottingham Forest to Newcastle United (August 2014)

Jamaal Lascelles during a Newcastle United Training session
Jamaal Lascelles during a Newcastle United Training session

Joined after 58 appearances in the Championship with Forest and then as part of the deal was loaned back for the 2014-15 season. A raw talent, Everton and QPR both wanted Lascelles but Newcastle won the battle.

He took a while to leave his mark on the Newcastle side, but found his voice as Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League, being awarded the captaincy by Rafa Benitez and helping United back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

Lascelles has been tipped for England honours and linked to Chelsea and Liverpool after an impressive season back in the Premier League.

Verdict: SUCCESS

Karl Darlow - Nottingham Forest to Newcastle United (August 2014)

Karl Darlow of Newcastle United
Karl Darlow of Newcastle United

Darlow arrived alongside Lascelles in a double deal and followed his team-mate back to the City Ground for a loan spell.

He made a total of 106 appearances for Forest in the Championship and was first choice for his final two campaigns at the City Ground.

His time at Newcastle hasn’t gone quite as swimmingly as he has fluctuated from first choice to mistake-ridden, but in general has proved himself as an adequate goalkeeper.

Verdict: SUCCESS

Jacob Murphy - Norwich City to Newcastle United (July 2017)

Watford v Newcastle United at Vicarage Road, Watford ----- Newcastle's Jacob Murphy salutes the fans at the final whistle
Watford v Newcastle United at Vicarage Road, Watford ----- Newcastle's Jacob Murphy salutes the fans at the final whistle

Murphy cost Newcastle £13m after the then 22-year-old had been recognised as one of the country’s rising stars. It was a move to his boyhood club and was one that filled fans with excitement.

He only played 46 times in the second tier, including nine times on loan at Blackpool, but scored nine goals in his first full season, prompting United to take the gamble.

He was always brought in as a player who will be one for the future, but was needed to help United fight off relegation. After a tough introduction to Premier League football he showed in glimpses that he is a player with talent.

Verdict: JURY’S OUT