Malik quit the group last month (Mar15) in a bid to live like a "normal 22 year old", but he was later spotted entering a recording studio, sparking reports he is teaming up with the writer/producer for a solo release.

Naughty Boy, real name Shahid Khan, later riled Malik's ex-bandmate Louis Tomlinson in an online spat, but he has now spoken out to insist he has not been recording with the former One Direction star.

The producer tells Britain's Heat magazine, "I've been (Zayn's) friend. He needs one. Just because we were seen at my studio - you (don't) necessarily just make music. People seem to forget that he's under so much stress. Which is why he left the tour. There's a lot going on. People get caught up - what he has done is to be normal.

"Sometimes being normal is to try and sort things out with your fiancee or hang around with a friend. That is normal. There seems to be some needless provoking going on. (Tomlinson) was deliberately adding to the provoking. I don't think that's fair. Especially on Zayn, that's not fair. Right now, there needs to be calm. He could have said that to me privately. Doing it openly is another act of provocation that's not needed."