Liam Payne, the once baby-faced member of One Direction, is reportedly in a “Blooming” relationship with Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, the singer who, five years ago, sat on the X Factor judging panel that catapulted him and his boyband to global stardom.

Payne, 22, has allegedly been secretly dating Fernandez-Versini, who is 32 and soon to be twice-divorced, since December when they reunited on X Factor.

It appears that their clandestine but pollution-heavy routes to the Maldives were all in vain, as a “Close pal” was willing to spill the beans on their cloak-and-dagger getaway to the tabloid press anyway.

Any suggestions that this relationship might just be a passing fling, as Fernandez-Versini distracts herself from that sticky divorce number two, have been put to rest by Payne’s new hand tattoo.

The inked rose artwork on his hand appears to be a loving homage to the horticultural illustrations that adorn Fernandez-Versini’s lower back and bottom, proving that Payne is indeed “Madly in love” with the singer, as “Close pals” have revealed.

Having once dated singer Leona Lewis, eight years his senior, in 2012, Payne is no stranger to dating high-profile singers.

Offering his showbiz oracle perspective on the romance, Sun reporter Dan Wootton seems highly confident this is true love.

“As someone who has known them both for years, it actually makes sense,” he wrote.

Cheryl Cole