Steven Gerrard's best form is "still good enough" for Liverpool, according to former Reds winger John Barnes.
The midfielder, 34, was left out of the starting line-up for Saturday's 1-0 win over Stoke and his contract is up at the end of the season.
But Barnes told BBC Radio 5 live: "While I can understand Steven Gerrard is not the player he once was, he is still very, very important to the club.
"At this stage of his career, his best at this moment is still good enough."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Gerrard has been offered a new deal and rejected stories that there is a rift between himself and the player.
The former England captain has also denied reports of a fallout with Rodgers after failing to start a league match for the first time since New Year's Day, describing them as "nonsense".
Barnes spent 10 seasons at Anfield before leaving to join Newcastle United at the age Gerrard is now.
He believes Gerrard still has a role to play at the club, although he did admit that he felt the player was "past his best".
"Of course he is, we know that," said Barnes.
"It happens with any player when you're getting into the latter stages of your career.
"If he was playing in a team like Chelsea or Manchester City that had strength in depth, then you could say leave him out because there are people of better or equal quality who can come in. But Liverpool don't have that."
|BBC sport football pundit Mark Lawrenson:|
|"I would say Brendan Rodgers is the only Liverpool manager who has had to manage Steven Gerrard when he is on that way down slightly."There is no doubting his ability and his passing ability, it is just a little bit about his movement at the moment."I don't think there is a massive rift. I think they had a little bit of a fall out when Steven was left out against Real Madrid for the Champions League away game."But he just wants to play and he now has to be clear in his mind that he can't play every single game."|