"The Pussycat Doll singer have become very close in recent months, going on low-key nights out to quiet pubs. Nicole even dedicated a performance of his hit Sing to him. She initially reached out to Ed, 24, after telling him his songs helped her get over her split from Lewis Hamilton. After meeting up in London, Ed took the former X Factor judge for a date to his home town in Suffolk. He has since written lyrics for Nicole, while she has dedicated performances to him on stage at private gigs.
Last night Ed’s pal said: “As far as he’s concerned they were in the early stages of dating and he’s been open about it with close friends and colleagues. It may not develop beyond those dates but they’re definitely tight.”
A friend of Nicole’s added: “They’re extremely close. Nicole says he is the male version of her.”
Ed invited Nicole as one of his special backstage guests when he performed a record-breaking three consecutive shows at Wembley Stadium.
She posted a picture of the pair on Instagram at 1.09am after his final gig on July 12, captioning it: “Okay okay you win @edsheeran, you’re taller.” Three days later, Ed took her to his home town of Framlingham.
They were pictured drinking in The Station Hotel, a local pub. Her pal said: “She loved it because, as she put it, it was ‘so real’. She kept saying that.”
In Hollywood on July 27, Nicole dedicated a performance of her hit song Don’t Cha to her love interest, saying: “This is for you, Ed.”