Former boyband star Lee Ryan is being set up to challenge Robbie Williams as Britain's number one male solo star, after signing a $1.1 million (GBP600,000) record deal.

Sony/BMG have snapped up the star, who topped the charts with Blue before they officially split in February (05).

Ryan had hoped for a career in movies, and travelled to New York to enrol on a directing course - but it seems music is in his blood, and record bosses have high hopes for the 21-year-old.

A source says, "He is going to be the new Robbie - it is as simple as that. He is now a top priority for Sony BMG and they're ploughing millions into him."

According to reports, Ryan is being looked after by BMG music chief HUGH GOLDSMITH, who worked with Blue, and Williams' former band Take That. His first release could come as soon as July (04).

There's more good news for the singer - he is being touted to become the new face of DOLCE + GABBANA, after being invited to the fashion giant's annual party in the south of France last week (ends20MAY05).

The source adds, "He hasn't signed anything but if everything goes well, he could be in their ad campaigns."

23/05/2005 17:49