LONDON (AFP) - Just when Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers thought he had had enough of answering awkward questions about controversial striker Mario Balotelli and the club's defence, talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard said he could leave Anfield at the end of the season.
The 34-year-old Liverpool-born midfielder, a one-club man, is approaching 700 appearances in all competitions for the Reds.
However, Gerrard - who joined the club's academy at the age of nine - is out of contract at the end of the season.
The former England midfielder has remained a key figure during the current campaign, featuring in all nine of Liverpool's Premier League matches so far this term.
But having endured the frustration of just missing out on a maiden English title last season, and with Liverpool nine points behind leaders Chelsea heading into this weekend's round of matches, Gerrard has cast doubt on his future at Anfield.
"I can only worry about this season because I'm only contracted until May," he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
"As it stands at the moment, I'm here until the end of the season and want to make the most of it. I certainly won't be retiring this summer. I will play beyond this season.
"We will have to wait and see if that's at Liverpool or somewhere else. That's Liverpool's decision. If they don't come then I will see what's out there."
Meanwhile Gerrard defended Balotelli, who has scored just two goals in 12 appearances and none in seven Premier League matches since since his £16 million (S$32.7 million) pre-season move from AC Milan.
Former Liverpool defender turned television pundit Jamie Carragher, a friend of Gerrard, has labelled Italy forward Balotelli a "panic buy" by Liverpool after prolific goal-scorer Luis Suarez left to join Barcelona.
However, Gerrard said: "You have to respect Jamie's opinion. He knows football but it's too early to get on Mario's back.
"He just needs time to score the goals he needs to prove to people he is worthy of staying here. I am not going to judge him after 10 games.
"To come in after Suarez was always going to be a big ask and he's not feeling sorry for himself. He is working hard, doing extra shooting sessions.
"I've actually been impressed (with) the way he goes about his work. You hear all kinds of stories and rumours before you meet him, but he does all the work. I like the guy."