Cheryl Fernandez-Versini
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has quit The X Factor after a two-year return Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has confirmed she has quit The X Factor. The I Don't Care singer is departing the ITV talent competition to focus on her music career but admits she will miss working with show boss and fellow judge Simon Cowell.

In a statement, Fernandez-Versini said: "I have had such an amazing experience being a judge on The X Factor. I have learnt so much and enjoyed nurturing talent but I've missed making music and am excited to be recording again. I want to thank everybody I have worked with along the way, especially Simon [Cowell] who I love to bits. I hope the show continues to produce stars and I wish them all the best."

Cowell, 56, has also addressed the news, stating that he understands her desire to pursue music again. The executive said: "Cheryl and myself spoke about this. I totally understand her commitment to making more records. She has been amazing on the show and in the near future we will be working on other things together."

Fernandez-Versini, 32, returned to the ITV talent competition series in 2014 after a three-year break but a source claims she was not keen on Cowell's alleged plans to invite Louis Walsh back to the judging panel after his departure at the end of the 2014 series.

cheryl liam
Sources claim Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is keen to keep her relationship with Liam Payne out of the spotlight Getty

An insider told The Sunday Mirror: "Cheryl didn't want to work alongside Louis Walsh, who is also in talks to be a judge, and show bosses are actively looking at new females judges and the possibility of bringing back Sharon Osbourne. Cheryl decided enough was enough and pulled out of talks and made it clear she was no longer interested. But she was not under contract so you can't really quit a job you don't have yet."

Following the end of her marriage to Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini, the former Girls Aloud singer is now dating 1D singer Liam Payne, but she is said to be intent on keeping their romance away from the prying eyes of the media. The source continued: "Staying on X Factor would have meant scrutiny for her new relationship with Liam that she didn't want. Hopefully she can be happy out of the spotlight for a while."

dermot o leary
Dermot O'Leary has confirmed his return to The X Factor after one year away ITV

Fernandez-Versini joined The X Factor for series five in 2008 but left after two years in 2010 to join the X Factor USA panel. However, after failing to impress the American audience, the Fight For This Love singer was fired by Cowell creating a rift between the pair before she returned to the UK version in series 11.

The singer's last solo album Only Human was released in 2014 and peaked at number seven on the UK charts, featuring the singles I Don't Care, Only Human and Crazy Stupid Love featuring Tinie Tempah. Fernandez-Versini has released four albums away from Girls Aloud and has clocked up five number one singles as a solo artist.

BBC Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw has already announced his departure from the show after one series and it is not known if Rita Ora will return to the panel. The competition has also experienced a shake-up with the presenting line-up after Olly Murs and Caroline Flack quit, paving the way for long-standing host Dermot O'Leary to reclaim his role.