For most footballers coming to Manchester City, the question has always been a variant on the one Mrs Merton asked the wife of Britain's most famous magician. "What first attracted you to millionaire Paul Daniels?"
It was a parting shot that Arsène Wenger aimed at Samir Nasri, remarking that it was hard to refuse a club that offered to treble your wages. However, while Nasri rejected his former manager's suggestion that money had been a prime source of motivation, he did not seek to deny he was deserting a setting for a rising sun.
"Money is not really a factor," he said. "People can think what they like. I know what was behind my decision; it was a choice about football and you will see that at the end of the season when we lift a trophy. We can talk about my choice again and people who talk about money will see they are wrong. I was not going for three times the money because Arsenal offered me an extension as well. Money doesn't buy happiness, that's for sure."
So what do Manchester City offer that Arsenal don't? "Titles I hope," came the reply. "I am 24 and everyone says I am a good player but I haven't won anything. A good player needs a good palmares [roll of honour].
"Sometimes you have to bring in big players to win. Arsenal didn't have this mentality before. They always relied on experienced players but since they moved to the Emirates Stadium, their transfer policy has been a little bit different. They have dealt in young players who have definite quality and in the future I think they can do something. But at the moment, they have lost Cesc Fabregas, who was the captain and who had been there for eight years. They need to bring someone in to replace him.
"Manchester City are a bigger squad, they showed it last year by winning the FA Cup and finishing above Arsenal. World-class players are not afraid to come to City any more; you can see that with Sergio Aguero."
City's qualification for the Champions League has dismantled one of the last barriers preventing Europe's leading footballers accepting offers from Eastlands. Samuel Eto'o may be the world's highest-paid footballer but Anzhi Machachkala can only offer him money and a working knowledge of Dagestan. A Champions League group that pitches Manchester City in with Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli is altogether more enticing.
"My only regret is that I've always wanted to play against Marseilles," said Nasri, who was brought up in the great port city. "The moment I leave Arsenal, they draw Marseilles."
Nasri could have chosen United over City. He is known as "The Little Prince" and Patrice Evra told him that, if he wanted to "become a king", he should go to Old Trafford.
"He is always saying something to make people react," said Nasri. His manager, Roberto Mancini, remarked that his memories of winning Serie A with Sampdoria were more fulfilling because it was at a club that was not used to it. Nasri feels the same. "I want to be part of history," he said. "I prefer that to being just another player."Reuse content