Why Dylan Levitt's presence makes Dundee United better as on-loan Manchester United star tries to emulate James Maddison

Socks folded, slumped down past the shinguards. A calm, peaceful demeanour on the ball. There is an air of nonchalance around Dundee United’s midfield maestro Dylan Levitt.

Dundee United's Dylan Levitt takes acclaim from Tony Watt after netting the winner against Kilmarnock. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

None of that should not be confused for indifference. The on-loan Manchester United midfielder simply plays to his own clock. When the game needs slowing down, he’ll slow it down. When the game requires an injection of pace and quality, he can produce.

Running on to a Tony Watt pass in extra time of Dundee United’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie with Kilmarnock on Saturday, he simply skipped past Rory McKenzie before rolling his foot across the top of the ball, rendering Euan Murray's presence irrelevant, and zipped a shot with his left foot past Zach Hemming. All while suffering from cramp.

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"In five or six years time we might think back and think we were actually lucky to see such a gifted player,” United boss Tam Courts analysed after the 2-1 win courtesy of that strike.

Levitt finds the back of the net with a wonderful solo effort. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

Midfield presence

The victory over Killie was just Levitt’s second appearance since the end of October. In the eight consecutive games he didn't feature, United picked up just four points and scored five goals.

They missed the 21-year-old's influence in the middle of the park. No United player comes close to matching Levitt’s 56.53 passes per 90 minutes. Of the first-team regulars, no one has better accuracy. No one plays into the final third more regularly.

His presence, aided by Calum Butcher doing the grunt work, makes United better.

"I was surprised by the way they opened up at the goal – I just saw space and kept going and then saw even more space," Levitt said of his first senior goal. “That let me get my finish off and celebrate with the fans.

“I’m really enjoying my time here. As a team we’re progressing, we’re on a journey and the next step is midweek.”

He added: “It’s always good to have chemistry in a team so you play to other players’ strengths and work off that. Butch and I did well here and it’s good to play alongside him.”

‘Can go all the way’

Courts labelled Levitt a “quality, quality player”, praising his “unbelievable technical quality”. He has ten caps for Wales and could face Scotland in the World Cup play-off.

United know this is a staging post in his career. Perhaps his equivalent to Camp America. Here to gain new experiences with the aim of developing before returning to England and trying to emulate the likes of Leicester’s James Maddison, who had a loan stint at Aberdeen and is now valued at upwards of £40million.

On Saturday he had to play through the pain before delivering the important moment.

“Adapting is a massive thing in football," he said. “You’ve got to be able to adapt to a lot of difficult situations and being away in so many different countries on international duty and learning from last season has helped me adapt really well to being in the Premiership.

“I’m just focusing on this season and not looking further forward than that.

“The manager said I can go all the way in the game and that’s great to hear. It’s a positive thing that the club is doing everything they can to push me and the team forward.”

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