Sinisa Mihajlovic said it felt "wonderful" to be back on duty with Bologna after revealing his hospital stay proved mentally testing.

The Serbian head coach underwent leukaemia treatment at the Sant'Orsola hospital after tests set off what Mihajlovic described as "alarm bells".

Mihajlovic joked with journalists on Saturday that he could become a tour guide for the hospital after his coaching career, having spent so long there as a patient.

For now, the 53-year-old is glad to be involved in Serie A action again, with his team facing Venezia on Sunday.

Mihajlovic's team have been in excellent form in his absence, earning results against Milan, Juventus, Inter, and Roma during a six-match unbeaten run.

Greeting reporters on Saturday, Mihajlovic jokingly said: "I missed you too, you are a necessary evil. When you go through certain moments, you realise how much you miss even the things that you wouldn't imagine, like talking to you."

The former Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter star was first diagnosed with leukaemia in 2019 and underwent a bone marrow transplant in October of that year, returning to the Bologna dugout just six weeks later.

When he discovered a problem in March, former hard-man defender Mihajlovic said the leukaemia was "very courageous in returning to face an opponent like me".

Speaking of his hospital experience on Saturday, Mihajlovic said: "This time it was tougher from a mental point of view. Due to COVID [restrictions], I had to be alone all the time. I only saw my wife for three hours in a day."

In his absence, he was named Serie A coach of the month for April in a gesture of support from league chiefs.

"To spend time on the pitch again has been wonderful," Mihajlovic said. "These are emotions that unfortunately I have already experienced. Health makes you enjoy life, but illness makes you understand its meaning well.

"The family – both the blood one, but also my players – have given me strength thanks to technology.

"I take this opportunity to thank the team, club, staff, doctors and nurses who have always been close to me. I feel at home now at Sant'Orsola. When I stop coaching I'll be a tourist guide in the hospital."

Sinisa Mihajlovic has been discharged from hospital "in good condition" after undergoing further leukaemia treatment, Bologna have announced.

The Serbian coach, who enjoyed an illustrious playing career in Serie A with the likes of Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter, was first diagnosed with the disease in 2019 and underwent a bone marrow transplant in October 2019, returning to the Bologna dugout just six weeks later.

Mihajlovic revealed in late March that routine tests had discovered "some alarm bells", leading him to step back from hands-on coaching duties for an unspecified amount of time and to declare "this disease is very courageous in returning to face an opponent like me."

An encouraging social media update from his club announced the news of Mihajlovic's exit from hospital on Monday.

"Sinisa Mihajlovic was today discharged from the Sant'Orsola Hospital, in good condition. Forza Mister, we are with you," read the tweet from Bologna's official account.

Mihajlovic's team have been in excellent form in Serie A of late, earning results against each of Milan, Juventus, Inter, and Roma during a six-match unbeaten run, with the 53-year-old receiving a surprise visit from his squad after they beat the title-chasing Nerazzurri 2-1 in dramatic fashion last week.

Sinisa Mihajlovic is facing a new leukaemia battle after the Bologna head coach revealed he is heading back to hospital for treatment.

The Serie A stalwart, who played for Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter, was first diagnosed with the disease ahead of the 2019-20 season and underwent a bone marrow transplant in October 2019. He was back in the dugout six weeks later.

He has remained boss of Bologna since then but will step away from his responsibilities for an indeterminate period after revealing he has encountered a setback.

Mihajlovic announced the news on Saturday, telling reporters in a news conference that a routine test had given cause for concern.

"In recent years the recovery was excellent, but unfortunately, from the latest analysis some alarm bells have emerged and there is a risk of a reappearance of the disease," Mihajlovic said.

"This disease is very courageous in returning to face an opponent like me."

Former Yugoslavia hard man Mihajlovic, who has coached teams including Sampdoria, Milan and Fiorentina, spoke of the challenges of always knowing there might be a bump in the road after his initial recovery.

"You can fall, and you have to find the strength to get up," he said. "At the beginning of next week I will have to be absent, and I will be hospitalised again at Sant'Orsola. I know I am in excellent hands. Unlike two and a half years ago, when I was in tears, this time you see me calmer.

"I know what I have to do, and my situation is very different than it was then."

Mihajlovic is hoping for a swift return to his Bologna duties, but it will not be immediate. "I will certainly have to skip some matches," he said.

Bologna sit 12th in Serie A and have won just one of 10 league games since the turn of the year, losing six times. Mihajlovic is convinced his players can thrive without him and rise to his encouragement which will come from afar.

Their next match is an April 4 clash with leaders Milan.

"I know they will fight for me. They are all good guys and good players," said 53-year-old Mihajlovic. "I ask the wonderful Bologna fans to support and help them, I am sure it will happen both in training and in matches. 

"None of us will give an inch, we'll move up in the table, and I'll be back with the team soon."

Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge?

Lukaku's first taste of English football was with Chelsea between 2011-14.

He could be set for a Chelsea return amid doubts over his Inter future.

 

TOP STORY – TUCHEL WANTS LUKAKU

Chelsea are planning a move for Inter star Romelu Lukaku, according to The Guardian.

Lukaku, who joined the Blues in 2011 before leaving in 2014, is reportedly considering his future after Antonio Conte quit Inter amid the Serie A champions' troubled financial situation.

Inter quartet Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Achraf Hakimi – linked with Paris Saint-Germain – and Alessandro Bastoni could be sold by the Nerazzurri.

Chelsea are now eyeing a reunion with Real Madrid and Barcelona target Lukaku after winning the Champions League, while Tottenham's Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland are also on their radar.

 

ROUND-UP

Gianluigi Donnarumma is prepared to join Juventus on a worse contract than he rejected at Milan, reports Corriere dello Sport. Donnarumma is available on a free transfer and the Italy international has been linked with Barca, Manchester United and PSG. Mundo Deportivo says Barca consider Donnarumma a good market opportunity.

- Bild reports Florian Neuhaus will remain at Borussia Monchengladbach, despite interest from Bayern Munich.

Olivier Giroud will join Milan as a free agent from Chelsea, claims Calciomercato. Giroud is available after his contract was not renewed at Stamford Bridge.

- Lille's Christophe Galtier is the latest candidate to replace head coach Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, joining Maurizio Sarri, Andre Villas-Boas and Sinisa Mihajlovic, according to Tuttomercato. Inzaghi is poised to succeed Conte at Inter.

Stefano Pioli was delighted to end a difficult week for Milan with what he felt was a deserved win over Bologna - but opposite number Sinisa Mihajlovic begged to differ.

The Rossoneri went into Saturday's game off the back of two successive defeats. After going down 3-0 at home to Atalanta in Serie A, they were knocked out of the Coppa Italia in midweek by rivals Inter.

Having been sent off against Inter and forced to deny suggestions he made a racist comment towards Romelu Lukaku during the quarter-final tie, Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty as he failed to reach 500 goals in his club career.

However, Ante Rebic tucked home the rebound to give Milan a half-time lead and Franck Kessie made no mistake from the spot in the second half.

Substitute Andrea Poli halved the deficit in the 81st minute but Bologna were unable to find an equaliser, Milan becoming just the third team to win nine of their first 10 Serie A away matches in a season.

"Without committing the naive error for the Bologna goal, we had an excellent match," Pioli told Milan TV.

"I'm happy with the performance and it's a victory which gives us confidence at the end a difficult week. It's deserved. 

"The last two training sessions we've done this week are the best in a long time. We have seen the return of important players and the team has managed to maintain a balanced attitude.

"We were not happy with the performance against Atalanta, the only team that has put us in difficulty this season. We played it out against all the others."

However, Mihajlovic felt Bologna were the better team in open play, insisting that Ibrahimovic's presence in his line-up would have led to a comfortable home victory.

"We created three or four chances and didn't score. It was an undeserved defeat and I think we played better," Mihajlovic told Sky Sport Italia.

"Fine, Milan are a better team, but we created our chances from open play. They scored from penalties and their only chances were from long balls.

"If we had Ibrahimovic on our side, we would have won 3-0. My players should be proud of their performance, they fought to the end, but as usual against bigger teams, we play well and don't win."

As well as the penalty, Ibrahimovic was also denied by a fabulous double save by Bologna goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski in the first half.

The talismanic striker was on target with three of his four attempts in total but will have to wait to reach the personal milestone. He has now missed three of his six penalties taken in Serie A this term, one more than in his previous 17 spot-kick attempts for Milan in the top flight.

Ibrahimovic will hope to make it to 500 goals when the league leaders host struggling Crotone at San Siro next weekend.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed out on reaching 500 goals in his club career as Milan returned to winning ways on Saturday, securing a hard-fought 2-1 triumph at Bologna.  

Having taken his tally to 499 before getting sent off in the midweek Coppa Italia exit to Inter, Ibrahimovic failed to convert a first-half penalty awarded for a foul on Rafael Leao.  

However, Ante Rebic scored from the rebound as the Rossoneri bounced back from successive losses - including last weekend’s 3-0 humbling at home to Atalanta - to remain the pacesetters in the Serie A title race.  

Franck Kessie succeeded where Ibrahimovic failed in the second half to double the lead, punishing Adama Soumaoro's handball as he scored from 12 yards.  

Yet Milan did not have it all their own way, Andrea Poli converting fellow substitute Andreas Skov Olsen's cut-back cross to finally beat Gianluigi Donnarumma, who had made fine one-on-one saves from Nicola Sansone and Nicolas Dominguez before the break.  

Lukasz Skorupski was equally impressive in goal for Bologna, including producing a stunning double save to deny Ibrahimovic twice in a hurry in the 23rd minute.  

The Swede was frustrated again by the keeper from the spot, though there was nothing Skorupski could do when Rebic reacted quickly to steer in the rebound for just his second goal of the season. 

Bologna's hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow when Soumaoro's jump to cut out a long pass saw the ball strike him on both arms, Kessie punishing the defender as he took over penalty duties.

Poli's finish – slammed high into the net from close range in the 81st minute - set up a tense finish, yet Milan - who set a new club record by scoring for a 20th successive away league game – held on to claim all three points.

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