Niall Horan has reportedly made the shock decision to sign a solo record deal with Universal Music, instead of Simon Cowell’s Syco label. According to reports, the label pursued Niall to sign a deal after failing to lure away Harry Styles, who ended up staying with Sony, the label which houses Cowell’s Syco.

Niall HoranHas Niall Horan inked a solo deal with Universal?

A US source told the Daily Star: “This will come as a real blow to Cowell who has been talking to Niall for months, wanting him to sign a deal with his label Syco. He made a number of big money offers to try and persuade Niall to sign up but, in the end, Universal came in and put even more money on the table.

“They’re chuffed to have got one over on Cowell and have taken one of 1D,” the source continued. “They heard his solo music and they all think it’s got good potential. They really had to throw the dollars at him but they think it’s worth it.”

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“Cowell will be unhappy about it. But Niall’s thrilled. He’s been telling pals he is really excited about his new music and this solo deal,” they added. “It’s anyone’s guess where this decision leaves One Direction now.”

The news comes just weeks after Cowell stated he was expecting to make an announcement about Niall’s solo career “soon”. He told People: “Niall is the most loyal. We are expecting to announce something soon with him. I've always known he's loyal."

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If Niall has signed with Universal he’s following in the footsteps of bandmate Liam Payne, who also ditched Sony for the rival label. Payne’s decision was said to have upset Cowell, who later ‘forgot’ to include him when talking about the loyalty of the One Direction boys in July.

Speaking in July Cowell said: “The great thing about all these boys - well not all of them but most of them - they are incredibly loyal and you don't always expect that. Niall, Harry, Louis - amazing.” Now the only One Direction member left to ink a solo deal is 24-year-old Louis Tomlinson.