After losing Neymar to PSG, Barca's best move might be to do nothing

If FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is wondering what to do now, it might be time for him to take a walk. Out the offices, through the metal gate and turn right, heading round the edge of the stadium, bordering the ice rink and the north end, alongside La Masia, the residency for hundreds of youth team players, once their spiritual home and empty now. Up past the maternity hospital and right, just a little further along on the left is a small round building; on the first floor, covered in photographs of Barcelona going back years, is the office of Joan Gaspart.

Bartomeu has lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and is left searching for a solution, some way to make it right. Ask nicely, and Gaspart will tell him what to do. Most of all, he will tell him what not to do: For goodness sake, don't do what I did.

In fact, here's an idea: Don't do anything at all. Not yet, at least. Not straight away. Stop, look, listen. Think. Wait.

The last time Barcelona found themselves in a position like this -- debilitated, a superstar departing, buy-out-clause unilaterally triggered and powerless to stop it, a big hole left in the team and a world record fee received -- Gaspart was the president. He came to power in the middle of the manoeuvres that ultimately ended with Luis Figo, an unhappy hostage to fortune, joining Real Madrid. It was 2001 and 600km away at the Santiago Bernabeu, Florentino Perez had just become president, voted in on postal votes and the "impossible" promise to sign Barca's best player.

In the end, Madrid paid 10 billion pesetas for Figo. At over $50 million, it smashed the transfer record of the time. Gaspart had tried to stop it happening (so had Figo, in fact) but in the end, he had to admit defeat. The problem is that Gaspart -- emotional, head-strong, proud and by his own admission a disastrous president -- never admitted defeat. He was desperate to make amends, and immediately. As one director put it, he "entered a state of shock that affected his ability to think rationally" and made things worse.

"Figo's move destroyed us," Gaspart admits. Not least because he, so desperate that it wouldn't, allowed it to.

"Two things happen," Gaspart explains. "One, the day you get elected, Figo tells you he's going to Madrid. Your best player: gone. Two, they give you loads of money. Loads of it. And instead of saying what I should have said -- 'gentlemen, this season whatever will be will be' - I tried to rescue the situation, so I went on to the street to sign. That was a disaster: everyone knows you've just lost Figo, they know you've got money, they know you're obliged to sign."

And so he did. Wildly. Gaspart wasted every cent and more: Marc Overmars, €39.6m. Gerard Lopez, €21.6m. Alfonso Perez, €15m. Emmanuel Petit, €9m. They were good players, in theory, but all of them were overpriced -- as soon as Figo's transfer happened, the market moved -- and not one of them truly succeeded.

Barcelona collapsed and their desperation grew. What they signed the year after was actually even worse -- Javier Saviola (€30m), Giovanni (€20.6m), Philippe Christanval (€16.8m), Fabio Rochemback (€14.6m) and Francesco Coco (€2.4m) -- but it was that initial desperation that had set everything in motion, that downward spiral that brought crisis and a complete collapse to Catalonia.

There is a lesson in there for Barcelona. For fans, there is a fear too. One of the lines that has done the rounds the most over the last few weeks has been the one about Neymar being a great player but €222m being a great bit of business. Well, yeah. But being a great bit of business depends on them doing, well, great business of their own. And there's the rub.

It's not just that Neymar's departure projects the image of a club that is debilitated and a board that was unable to prevent it happening (yes, it doubled the previous record but a €222m buyout clause appears low for Neymar, and bares little comparison to the reported €500m clause for Gareth Bale), it is the doubt that comes next, the context.

The context is concerning: debates over the role of the youth team and Barcelona losing their religion; Arda Turan and Andre Gomes arriving at the Camp Nou; Marco Verratti not arriving, or Hector Bellerín; Liverpool declaring Philippe Coutinho not for sale, as if he is Neymar anyway; Dani Alves going; Dani Ceballos, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio and more signing for Madrid; the damage that the Neymar transfer has done, the president who signed him being in jail; the growing concern in Catalonia that it is Madrid who manage the market better.

Small wonder many don't trust this Barcelona to use the €222m well. Losing Neymar is the start; losing the opportunity that Neymar brings you would deepen the doubts.

Barcelona were already looking to strengthen the midfield -- they had hoped to be buying from PSG, not selling to them -- and now their search extends to the forward line too. Now they have to replace Neymar. The problem is that there may be no replacement for Neymar. And while €222m is a lot of money, it is not as much as it was. Oh, you could buy four players for that, people say. But can you? Can they? And how good would those players be? The market was already moving, now it has shifted still further. Especially for Barcelona.

"We have to fight to keep Neymar: there is no one on the market the same," said Gerard Pique. He is right: there is no one quite like him, but there may now be fees that are quite like his, and for players who are not as good. With Neymar it was not just that he was good, it was that he was supposed to be the future: the man lined up at take over from Messi, the next best player in the world. Now he is the past. They have to ensure that he is not the end, but a new beginning. Look beyond the right now. But that's not easy.

This could be an opportunity, sure, maybe even an enormous one. But it is an obligation, too. And when you're obliged to buy, you tend not to buy well, as Gaspart's experience shows. Go out on to the streets with a great big bag of cash, when everybody knows you've got a great big bag of cash, and the chances are you're going to get mugged. Huge injections of money do not always mean huge improvements; haste is rarely helpful. Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from Manchester United in the summer of 2009 led to the club signing Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan and Mame Biram Diouf. Who would you rather have?

Swapping Fernando Torres for Andy Carroll, anyone? (OK, OK, that's not fair: Luis Suarez arrived at Anfield that day too.)

The pressure is intense and the market immediately changes. Supporters want solutions. Huge names hit the headlines. Superstars must be signed and swiftly. Get someone in, quick! It's understandable and it could even work, but is it the really right thing to do?

Barcelona were caught out by Neymar's exit; it wasn't something for which they planned. They must now react, but the right way. It is that sensation they have to avoid: that pull, that need to do something, anything. There may even be an argument that says they're better off doing nothing at all. At least to start with. Resist the urge to take revenge on the world, the Gaspart trap.

"You can't do what I did, you just can't," says Gaspart. "You're dead."