Frank Lampard has dropped the first hint yet that the current season with Chelsea may be his last.
The 34-year-old, reduced to just 13 appearances for the Blues this season due to injury, is out of contract at the end of the campaign.
Interim manager Rafael Benítez stated he believed Lampard and Ashley Cole - whose deal also expires in 2013 - would leave the club in the summer and Lampard conceded that was probable.
"Maybe things don’t last forever," he sighed when asked about his Stamford Bridge future after the club's 3-1 Club World Cup semi-final win against Monterrey in Japan.
Ramires, John Obi Mikel and Oriol Romeu have vied for the two midfield roles in Lampard's absence and although only Ramires, the eldest of the trio, offers a goal threat, Lampard is nine years older than him.
No longer a first-teamer at Chelsea, Lampard may get a one-year extension at best, such is the club's policy with players well into their 30s. Didier Drogba preferred a two-year offer but Chelsea proposed half that, leading to his departure for Shanghai Shenhua.
It is feasible Lampard has played his last match for England as well. Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley's return to fitness and form - as well as their early-20s age - dilutes Lampard's waning impact in the national side.
Lampard has been with Chelsea since 2001
He was defiant he had "two or three years" left at the "top level", which would make any mooted move to the MLS an embarrassment.
“The ball is in Chelsea’s court. At the minute nothing has been said. Nothing has been planned. Talks about ‘a one-year extension’ or ‘two-year extension’ don’t exist," he added.
“Although I want it to last forever you have to be big enough to know what it is. I want to be involved. That’s my character," Lampard told the Daily Telegraph.
“Whatever happens, I’ve had a great time at Chelsea. I feel like I’ve had a good year particularly from where we were in February to playing what I like to think was a big part in winning the Champions League and FA Cup.
He also reserved a thinly-veiled dig for former Chelsea coach André Villas-Boas, whose attempts to disband the player power clique was unsuccessful when he was sacked in March.
Referring to Drogba's impact in last season's FA Cup and Champions League wins, Lampard remembered "We were the players who were out a little bit under Andre Villas-Boas and came back in and made a difference."
Lampard, an £11m signing by Claudio Ranieri in 2001, has scored 188 goals and played 565 times for the club. He has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and a Champions League winners' medal in his 11 years in west London.