The news will send shockwaves to dedicated Directioners around the globe, who are eagerly awaiting their up coming world tour.
Malik, 20, was “rocked to his core” when ex Australian stripper Courtney Webb went public with claims they’d slept together behind the back of his girlfriend, Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards.
But a band insider tells Celebuzz that Malik was already becoming disillusioned and detached about his life in the limelight with One Direction.
The hunk, who comes from West Yorkshire, England, has found it difficult spending so long away from his close knit family, the insider added
Even their record label chief Simon Cowell has stepped in promising he will not overwork Malik or his bandmates Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan. Cowell has even offered Malik extra time off.
However, in practice, the lads’ 2013 will be fraught. They have been rehearsing hard for their tour, which starts on Feb. 23 in London and ends in Tokyo, Japan in Nov. 3. Even during their August break, they will have to promote a concert movie and documentary, which they are filming the entire time on the road.
A source connected to the band reveals “there is growing concern among the bosses that Zayn is on the brink at the moment.”
“He feels that the last six months have been his toughest yet in the band,” the insider tells us.
“Even before the cheating scandal, Zayn was steering clear of nights out with his bandmates and sometimes would skip media events. He has been quite low at several points when being away for key family celebrations. But his pals have cheered him up. People forget he is the shyest member.
[inlinecmp pos=”right” id=”0″ type=”14245002:0″]“Naturally, he likes the adoration and his day job, but he is battling to cope with the pressure which comes with it.”
And when it comes to the job, the insider tells us that Malik finds it hard to keep a good public image.
“Every step 1D makes is scrutinized and judged by the public and media. Their reputation as role models to teens is also weighing heavy on his shoulders as it is not natural for him to be bright, bubbly and smiley twenty-four seven.
“All of the boys to a certain extent feel that things have changed since they became so huge. They used to have fun together wherever they went, but now the novelty has worn off and the reality of 1D being a round the clock job is sinking in.
[inlinecmp pos=”left” id=”0″ type=”14245031:200″]“The five were urged to calm down publicly by management, and duck away from ‘late night partying’ ‘sleeping with fans’ and ‘out of control drinking.'”
The insider adds that Malik feels he’s ruined the band’s image after news of his alleged dalliance broke.
“Zayn feels that being caught out with Courtney has made the band look bad, and is still worried about how bosses will react in the long run.
“Simon made it clear that everyone makes mistakes and the key is to resolve problems and move on with what they do best.”
Malik is back in the arms of girlfriend Edwards after talks in the last ten days. He convinced his pop star ladylove that Webb, 21, used him to get famous.
The source continues, “Zayn suspected almost immediately that he had been duped by Courtney and warned Perrie about the possibility of a kiss-and-tell story emerging — that was before the media even found out.
“It really sent him into a tail spin. He had a mixture of emotions — guilt for his cheating, anger for being led astray by the girl, shame for the world finding out, upset at how his bandmates and management would react and doubt about whether he would still have a place in the band.
“When something like that happens it rocks the mind of such a young star. Zayn just seemed lost for several days. But with the authority of Simon, he was given time off from band commitments and rehearsals to explain his situation to Perrie.
“No one in the management wants Zayn to leave or even consider quitting, with days to go before their biggest tour ever. He is a lovely, caring and funny chap — but there is no doubt fame has changed his outlook.”
And that outlook isn’t too pretty for Directioners. According to our insider, members of Malik’s family feel it’s time for him to step away from the spotlight.
“Some feel he is in a fragile state,” the source says. “There are certain members of his family who have told him if he is unhappy with the money made so far he could walk away.”
“All this advice, worry and stress is washing around his mind. We were shocked that he cheated on Perrie, some of us wonder if his next move will shock us even more when he says he will leave the band?”
[inlinecmp pos=”right” id=”0″ type=”10347332:200″]Last year, reports emerged that Cowell has prepared a contingency plan if a member of One Direction left in 2013.
Other boy bands like Backstreet Boys and Take That have continued on major tours even though a key player walked out.
In 2012, Malik admitted he had struggled the most of all the 1D members with their global fame.
[inlinecmp pos=”left” id=”0″ type=”10347322:200″]“I love the fact that I’m in a band, but it’s very hard because of the type of person I was before,” he confessed. “I was very reserved and just did my own thing.”
Malik’s squeaky clean image came crashing down when former stripper Webb, known as CJ, went public with their fling.
Malik slept with CJ in the £2.2million North London home he shares with Perrie, 19, who was away on tour.
The former $750-per-night erotic dancer took pictures as he slept in bed in an effort to back up her claims.
The insider continues, “Zayn was deeply sorry about his behavior, and insists that the girl was a honey trap.
“The couple are back on track for the moment, which is a relief for Zayn. But in reality, they face a tough few months apart due to their work loads.
“If they break up that could be the straw which breaks the camel’s back.”
The boys are days away from returning to the stage at UK’s Brit Awards in London. They will perform a charity single — “One Way or Another” — in hopes of raising money for Comic Relief.
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