The first question surrounds the attractiveness of MCFC as a destination for players, and what David Silva's decision tells us. We presume that there is a positive feedback loop between our success in conventional terms (wins, points, trophies) and the quality of the players we can buy. As we improve we can buy better players who will help us to improve more. While this is broadly true our resources have allowed us to jump a few steps in the process. And our two highest profile acquisitions, Robinho and Carlos Tévez, both players deserving of Champions League football, joined because of particular personal circumstances: Robinho's desperation to leave Real, and Tévez's insistence on personally humiliating Sir Alex Ferguson. Even those slightly lower profile signings: Gareth Barry, Manu Adebayor, Kolo Touré, had fallen out with their clubs.
David Silva is different, though. He is well-settled at his current club, who have just had their best season since 2005/06. He is one of the stars of the side - even more so with the departure of David Villa. At 24 he is in no rush to make a step up. He has been repeatedly linked with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United. So for him to choose to join City is a significant moment. Of course the money is a factor. No-one with base-line intelligence could suggest otherwise. But there's a difference between an ambitious, wage-profligate side who finishes tenth and an ambitious, wage-profligate side on the brink of Champions League qualification. This is the difference between Kaká, Samuel Eto'o and John Terry turning us down in 2009 and David Silva signing for us in 2010.
This is particularly pleasing because I had doubted that our failure to qualify for the Champions League would limit our ability to sign players of this level. Had we made fourth I had little doubt we would be able to attract authentically world class players. (By which I mean, the best three or four players in that role in the world. Carlos Tévez might just be one, as might Nigel de Jong.) But without Champions League football I thought we would miss out. David Silva probably fits within my definition of 'world class.' Taking his category to be 'dextrous, imaginative creative players who can play off the flank or behind a striker' he's not quite on the level of Andrés Iniesta or Wesley Sneijder but he is probably better than Rafael van der Vaart, Luka Modrić and so forth. He certainly has as least as strong a claim to be recognised as 'world-class' as Tévez does. And, because of the lack of the unique circumstances mentioned above, his decision to join us seems weightier and more significant.
Finally this is a big move for Roberto Mancini. As attached as I am to some of the Mark Hughes buys, it is vitally important that the squad be refreshed with players fully supportive of Mancini and his methods. It was the same with Hughes' gradual sidelining of the Sven-Göran Eriksson players. It's a difficult process, it inhibits performances but it is absolutely necessary to success. In this way, and in others, I hope the arrival of David Silva is the first of many.