Aston Villa fans thought they'd genuinely signed Roberto Carlos this week

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Villa fans haven't had the best of times in recent years. Since almost breaking the top four under Martin O'Neill a decade ago, it's all been downhill with years of circling the drain until relegation to the second tier was confirmed last year.

A season in the Championship hasn't done much to lighten the mood around Villa Park, but last summer they were given a glimpse when Chinese businessman Dr Tony Xia bought the club from American counterpart Randy Lerner.

The club then embarked on a massive spending spree to assemble the most expensive squad the Championship has ever seen, but could still only manage a mid-table finish.

Steve Bruce's spending looks as though it is set to be curbed this summer, with the former Man United defender being made to sell before he can buy in the face of Financial Fair Play regulations.

This means that until he's able to shift some of his under-performing squad he'll be relying on loans and free transfers.

And earlier this week, a small section of fans believed they'd got their first one on board, only there was one problem – the player in question has been retired for two years already.

Earlier this year a story did the rounds highlighting how Villa missed out on the chance to sign Roberto Carlos from Inter Milan in 1996, opting to keep Alan Wright as their first choice left-back instead.

Then chairman Doug Ellis arranged the move only to see manager Brian Little turn down the opportunity in what now appears to be one of the most short-sighted moves in football history.

So when Dr Xia caught up with the legendary defender at a conference, he took the opportunity to right one giant wrong by 'signing' the 44-year-old and getting him to pose with the club's shirt.

If only Dr Tony had been around 20 years ago, the future could have looked very different for Villa if they'd had Carlos' trademark free kicks and bursts down the flank.

However, despite his age, some fans are apparently so starved for good news that they believed the chairman when he posted the pictures to Twitter. Check them out below...

Unlucky guys, maybe there'll be better luck later in the summer!

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