Liam Payne Is Dating Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, And Sophia Smith Is Throwing Shade

Liam Payne is reportedly dating Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, and his ex-girlfriend, Sophia Smith, is causing a stir by throwing shade at the new couple.

According to recent reports, Liam Payne is taking a page from Harry Styles by dating an older woman — People has confirmed that the 22-year-old is dating 32-year-old X Factor UK judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. Liam and Cheryl reportedly started seeing each other last December sometime after One Direction performed at The X Factor UK finale. That same month, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini decided to divorce her husband of 19 months, French businessman Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini Finds Love With Liam Payne
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is dating One Direction star Liam Payne (Photo by Luca Teuchmann/Getty Images)

The Sun reports that Liam is so smitten with Cheryl that he got a rose tattoo on his hand to match the massive floral inking on Cheryl’s butt, and the Daily Mail is reporting that Cheryl was the mystery woman whom Liam Payne referred to as “baby” in his cryptic Valentine’s Day Instagram post.

“Happy Valentine’s Day baby…” Liam captioned the photo of a rose below.

Liam Payne's Rose For Cheryl
Liam Payne sent a rose photo to Cheryl Fernandez-Versini on Valentine's Day (Image via Liam Payne/Instagram)

Liam Payne and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini reportedly became friends a few years before their romantic relationship blossomed, and Liam’s ex-girlfriend might be a bit miffed that the One Direction singer found love with a close female pal so soon after their split in October. According to the Mirror, there’s speculation that Sophia Smith is using her Instagram page to throw shade at Liam and Cheryl.

Sophia seemingly responded to the news about Liam sending Cheryl a virtual Valentine’s Day rose by sharing a similar photo of a black-and-white flower, and she also tried to replicate one of Cheryl’s Instagram pictures by getting topless and posing in bed.

Liam Payne's Girlfriends
Sophia Smith copies Cheryl Fernandez Versini Bed Photo (Images via Sohpia Smith, Cheryl Fernandez Versini/Instagram)

“I can’t take all this shade,” one of Sophia Smith’s Instagram followers wrote after noticing the striking similarities between the two photos.

Other commenters wondered whether Liam Payne was responsible for taking both photos of the similar-looking brunettes.

It’s possible that Sophia Smith is taking digs at Liam Payne and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini because she believes that Liam was two-timing her with The X Factor UK judge, but insiders insist that Liam and Cheryl didn’t have romantic feelings for one another while Sophia was still in the picture.

“Cheryl and Liam are in a relationship. It was unexpected but they’ve both made each other incredibly happy,” a source told The Sun.

“They’ve always got on well and share many of the same interests, but there was never anything romantic between them in the past.”

The Sun‘s sources say that Liam Payne is “madly in love” with Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, but Us Weekly is reporting that Liam and Cheryl’s relationship is “not serious” and that they didn’t want the public to ever find out about their fling. However, Liam is reportedly a bit relieved that the news is out there because now he and Cheryl “don’t have to be paranoid about getting caught.”

Liam Payne first met Cheryl Fernandez-Versini when he was just 14 years old. Cheryl was a judge on The X Factor UK when Liam auditioned for the show in 2008, and Liam won her heart by winking at her during his performance of “Fly Me To The Moon.” According to the Daily Mail, Cheryl responded to his flirty move by telling him that he was “really cute.”

However, Liam didn’t experience success on The X Factor UK until two years later when he decided to give the show another go. Cheryl praised his performance of Julie London’s “Cry Me a River,” and she stated that the 16-year-old singer was a star in the making.

“You’ve definitely got it, whatever ‘it’ is, you’ve got it,” Cheryl said. “I thought your voice was really, really powerful.”

Are you surprised that Liam Payne and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini have started dating seven years after making each other’s acquaintance on The X Factor UK? And do you think Sophia Smith’s recent Instagram posts are a bitter response to their relationship?

[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for iHeartMedia]