1D's Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Harry Styles
One Direction's Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Harry Styles.

One Direction star Zayn Malik has quit the boyband, claiming that he wants to feel like a "normal 22-year-old".

The singer, who had been part of the group since it formed on The X Factor in 2010, said in a statement to fans that he felt that it was "the right time" and revealed he had grown tired of the spotlight.

"I'd like to apologise to the fans if I've let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart," he said. "I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world."

As the world struggles to digest the news, IBTimes UK rounds up a few other reasons why he might be walking away.

Venturing into rap

Earlier in March, music producer Naughty Boy, real name is Shahid Khan, reignited rumours that Malik would leave the boy band after confirming the singer would feature on his upcoming album.

"I can't deny the fact that we have made music together," the La La La hitmaker told The Sun. "Zayn is going to feature on my next album. "We're making music and having fun. This is just like a side gig and I don't think there's anything wrong with it."

Stress

Malik got a lot of flak from fans after pictures emerged of him apparently cheating on his fiancée Perrie Edwards with holidaymaker Lauren Rich in Thailand.

Within hours, he had quit the One Direction's On The Road Again tour and after jumping on a plane back to London is said to have had make or break talks with his partner.

"Zayn finds it tougher than the rest of his bandmates dealing with fame. Having his every movement scrutinised causes great anxiety and the pictures which surfaced with the fan yesterday was the final straw," a source told the Sun. "He did nothing wrong but the amount of criticism he received was simply too much. He needs to get away."

Tired of sharing the spotlight

For years there had been talk of an ongoing feud among the band members, with Heat magazine previously reporting the quintet stayed in different hotels during their Where We Are tour, only meeting when they come together to perform on stage.

"Harry thinks the others are immature and not as driven as him, while Louis and Zayn get irritated with his lectures," an insider told the magazine.

The rumours of in-fighting were reignited earlier in March after a snap of the X Factor stars posing with fans began making the rounds online. In the image, Payne can be seen using one of his hands to obscure his missing bandmate's face.

To get married

Malik got engaged to Little Mix's Edwards in August 2013, but almost two years on, they are yet to set a wedding date. With their relationship in jeopardy following the cheating allegations, he may have decided to make the ultimate sacrifice for his woman.

Drugs scandal

The What Makes You Beautiful singer's reputation has never quite recovered from the cannabis scandal of 2014. Last summer Malik and bandmate Louis Tomlinson faced a fierce backlash after a video purportedly showed the pair smoking cannabis as they were escorted to a show at the Estadio Nacional in Lima, Peru surfaced online.

His past came back to haunt him recently when he was warned he would have to pay a £3,300 fee to ensure he would not smoke cannabis in Philippines.

Anti-Drugs Advocate Group spokeswoman Elaine Tan said: "The condition is intended to protect the public interest should the band members commit any violation during their stay in the Philippines."