Germany captain Michael Ballack admits Chelsea may be his last club as a professional footballer. The 31-year-old has one year left to run on his contract at Stamford Bridge, and he revealed he would be happy to negotiate an extension that would take him into the twilight of his career. After joining Chelsea from Bayern Munich on a free transfer in the summer of 2006, Ballack had looked set to leave the club after just one season following the souring of his relationship with former boss Jose Mourinho. But, the departure of the Portuguese combined with a return to fitness provoked a changed mood in the German, which was reflected in his impressive late-season form as he became a key figure in the Blues' run to the Champions League final.
"I can imagine it (ending career with Chelsea). I will be 32 in September, and still want to play two or three more years at this level," he told Germany's Welt newspaper.
"What comes next remains to be seen."
Ballack ruled out the possibility of following the likes of David Beckham to the United States to play out the final days of his career. Instead, he flagged up the possibility of a return to Bavaria when he hangs up his boots.
"We felt very well in the Munich area," he added. "Certainly, we will return to Germany.
"The step (to America) has rarely any sporting motivation. It is more a matter of quality of life, but I am not currently thinking about this."
Ballack insists he is focused on winning Euro 2008 with Germany, particularly after the cruel ending to the Champions League final which saw him miss out on a winner's medal when he was so close to glory once again. With Bayer Leverkusen in 2000, he scored an own goal as they missed out on the Bundesliga title on the final day of the season. Two years later, he lost in both the Champions League and German Cup finals for Leverkusen before losing to Brazil in the World Cup final for Germany. Losing out to Manchester United on penalties last month in Moscow saw him become the nearly-man once again.
"I won't let things like that drive me crazy, but I will take them as they come," added the midfielder.
"I am always highly-motivated, but you can never force anything.
"We missed a penalty in the Champions League final because John Terry slipped. What can you do about it? That is just bad luck.
"We don't even need to talk about how much a European Championship title would mean-that would be enormous."