Few outlets know how to peddle a Benzema to Arsenal story like Don Balon.
The Spanish website are one of the few who are still fighting to keep the Benzema to Arsenal flame alive.
Over £100m has been spent on Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Karim Benzema himself has signed a new contract at Madrid, but none of that will stop them.
At this point, it’s becoming something of an obsession. As if someone’s happiness or livelihood depends on this one, battered transfer story.
The rumour exists in a vacuum as their stories frequently ignore any context or real life happenings that suggest it won’t ever happen.
More often than not, Don Balon will simply twist the story, creating ludicrous scenarios where a deal might occur.
When Arsenal wanted a striker in the summer and hadn’t signed Lacazette yet, they reported Benzema was an option – provided Real Madrid signed Kylian Mbappe, of course.
It was an unlikely story then, but it was at least grounded in previous rumours.
By the end of the window, Arsenal had signed Lacazette, and Mbappe joined Paris St. Germain. Benzema remained at Madrid.
Yet, that didn’t stop them from continuing the link. In September, they said that Madrid wanted rid of him after some poor performances.
His likely destination? Arsenal, of course.
The Frenchman signed a new contract at Madrid that would keep him there until 2021. The new deal wasn’t a sign of loyalty, though. No, Don Balon thought it was Madrid ensuring they’d get a nice big fee for their striker.
You’d have a thought a new contract would kill the rumours, but the uncertainty surrounding Alexis Sanchez’s future gave them new life.
Benzema would be the Chilean’s replacement. The story wrote itself.
They were so committed to this angle that they took a guess at what Benzema was thinking, and concluded that he didn’t want Sanchez at Madrid.
There were no quotes from the player or analysis from an expert. Just pure speculation.
All of this is a just a sample of Don Balon’s love of this story dating back to the summer. The rumour itself is much older than that.
You’d think that the rumour would have diminishing returns by now. There are only so many times you can repeat the same thing before people automatically start thinking it’s rubbish.
Evidently, credibility isn’t their main concern here. Nor is any of this done with a self-concious knowledge that it’s silly. It’s like an unintentional parody of a transfer rumour.
Like many outlets, Don Balon thrive on controversy. There are few greater sources of it than Real Madrid.
Benzema has been there for such a long time, yet his future somehow always feels insecure. As if he could be cut at any moment, but is only being saved by the mercy of Florentino Perez and Zinedine Zidane.
As long as that impression exists, this rumour will have life.
I expect that even when Benzema is 36 and on the verge of retiring, he’ll be linked with a move to Arsenal.
By Don Balon, at least, if no-one else.