As Sprint Corp. nears an agreement to buy T-Mobile, the man in the hot pink T-shirt will soon step into the limelight.

John Legere, the chief executive officer of T-Mobile who’s known for wearing company-branded shirts and taunting his competitors on Twitter, is likely to run the combined company, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. He’s being favored over Dan Hesse, the 60-year-old CEO of Sprint, who took over a broken company in 2007 and did enough fixing, even while operating at a loss, to attract a new owner last year.

As negotiators hammer out the finer points of an agreement, Mr. Legere will increasingly be responsible for the prospects of an enlarged company. It would fall to him to integrate disparate management teams and divergent marketing strategies, while also combining two networks that are years behind the technological advances of their biggest rivals, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

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