Mike Arrington is close to selling his influential TechCrunch blog to AOL, GigaOm reports. An announcement is said likely at TechCrunch's ongoing Disrupt conference – from which Arrington has been notably absent this afternoon.

Fresh speculation that Arrington would sell TechCrunch started this summer after the former lawyer began spending much of his time in Seattle, where his parents live. AOL, meanwhile, is focusing more on content under CEO Tim Armstrong, a strategy that builds on previous acquisitions like Engadget publisher Weblogs Inc. So a deal wouldn't be a surprise. Then again, given that talk of a TechCrunch sale has been ongoing for more than three years now, it would also be unsurprising if the buyout rumors turned to vapor — with Arrington left enjoying a wash of free publicity for Disrupt.

[Image: Arrington's Business 2.0 profile, via GigaOm]