Simon Cowell booted Louis Walsh off the X Factor before the start of the new series - but now he wants him back!

Just last month, Louis Walsh was breezily claiming that he was looking forward to having some time away from the X Factor to get back to his day job of being a music manager. But he might have to eat his words – new reports suggest that Simon Cowell is keen to get him back on board to rescue the show from its plummeting ratings.

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The X Factor’s viewing figures are already down a whopping 1 million from last year, and The Sun reports that Simon is keen to coax Louis back as a ‘fifth judge’, who will sit away from the main panel and provide a neutral commentary.

The source says that Louis would be a ‘neutral fifth judge who will sit in a special place away from the other judges to provide his own unbiased comments on the contestants.’ Kind of like a mediator to stop Simon and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini beating each other up?

Louis was replaced by Nick Grimshaw on the current series, but he was keen to stress that he hadn’t been sacked – he just hadn’t had his contract renewed. ‘I wasn’t sacked, but I haven’t been hired,’ he said at the time.

He also said in an interview on This Morning in August that he wasn’t missing the show. ‘I don’t think I’ll miss it all. I’m back to my day job,’ he said. ‘I’m looking for new talent.’

It looks like the new talent might have to wait a bit longer for Louis to find them and catapult them to stardom – if Simon gets his wish, his long-time friend will be back in time for the live shows.

An X Factor refused to confirm or deny the rumours, saying only that ‘the live shows do not start until the end of next month and any talk of plans at this stage is speculation.’