“He’s a fantastic singer,” he told the U.K. outlet Sugarscape. “Look, he’s got to get his head together a little bit. He needs some time on his own, as he said, to be a normal 22-year-old, which he’s gonna have.”
Cowell continued, expressing his support for the band no matter what happens.
“I’ve always said to all of them, the future’s bright depending on what you want to do,” he said. “We’ve always hoped that One Direction would stay together for a long time and my hunch is it still will. They’re just too good for everything to stop now.”
One Direction signed with Cowell’s record label Syco Records after forming and finishing third on the U.K.’s The X Factor in 2010.
“They were surprised and shocked but now they’ve … got used to it,” he continued, “and they’re being professional and respecting the fans who turned up to see a great show — and that’s what they’re doing.”
Asked in another interview at an event celebrating the upcoming ninth season of his show Britain’s Got Talent on Thursday whether he would sign Zayn as a solo artist, he replied: “I can’t give anything away.”
Watch the interview with Sugarscape here: