Nicolo Barella is ready to become Inter’s next captain but the Nerazzurri should not rush to discard current skipper Samir Handanovic, according to Beppe Bergomi.

Barella was tipped last week to be the player to next wear the armband for the Nerazzurri, with Inter seemingly having already decided he will succeed Handanovic as captain.

The former Cagliari midfielder produced another complete performance on Sunday as Antonio Conte’s side demolished AC Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.

“Barella is ready, he is a mature boy,” Bergomi insisted in an interview with Italian news outlet TuttoMercatoWeb.

“I think Inter’s biggest strength is their defence and he is learning to defend better.

“Barella is an instinctive player who used to let players go past him and would get booked for cheap fouls, but now he’s improving in that sense.

“He is mature both on and off the pitch.

“I do not align myself with those who criticize Handanovic, however, be careful.

“Samir is intelligent, his comments after the derby and after the elimination from the Champions League were important.

“He always has the right words to say, you always learn from defeats.

“So I would not cast Handanovic aside easily because what he said about Spalletti, about how Spalletti helped Inter become what they are now, should not be taken for granted.”

Bergomi, who spent the entirety of his playing career with Inter, also reflected on Sunday’s derby triumph, which Inter won 3-0 thanks to a double from Lautaro Martinez and goal from Romelu Lukaku.

“Even before it was played, I considered it a Scudetto match for both clubs,” he explained.

“AC Milan must not look backwards but forward.

“Inter, however, won with merit.

“They give the impression of being mature and aware of their strengths.

“Certain players have improved, now there is a united team with a strong sense of belonging.

“I still think that Conte is the one who, in these two years, has been the difference maker.”

Bergomi then addressed the idea that Conte has this Inter side looking like his sides of the past, such as his three-time title-winning Juventus team.

“Each coach gives his team its own identity,” Bergomi argued.

“His Juventus, Chelsea and Italy teams were teams with big heart and with great technical ability.

“It is not offensive to say that the two teams look alike.

“Conte believes so much in work and repetition.

“Initially he tried to play a certain type of football, with an attacking midfielder with a high defensive line and playing with a higher press.

“He is a divisive person but at Inter, when you have someone like that, with a strong character, the results arrive.”

Bergomi next spoke on the aforementioned Lukaku, who is Inter’s top-scoring player this season having scored 23 goals in 30 appearances.

“Lukaku has scored zero headed goals this season and while Zlatan Ibrahimovic turns to headers, Romelu does not,” he pointed out.

“You have to give Lukaku the ball to his feet or deep.

“He is a real team player and he cares a lot, as shown by everything he does and with every celebration.

“Did I expect him to do so well in Italy? In Italy, anyone who is over six feet tall makes the difference.

“I think of Ibra, Lukaku and Edin Dzeko.

“Players like that always do important things against our defences and I had no doubts about the impact he could make.”

Conte’s side have a four-point lead in Serie A now ahead of their next match at home to Genoa.