The trio was shortlisted Monday for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or, with Messi the strong favorite to become only the second player in the 55-year history of the award to claim the trophy hat-trick in successive years.
Michael Platini, now president of European soccer's governing body Uefa, is the only player to have achieved the feat to date. The Frenchman took home the award in 1983, 1984 and 1985.
In the women's game, USA striker Abby Wambach will battle the holder Marta of Brazil and Japan's Homare Sawa, who top scored at the women's World Cup in Germany in July, to be crowned player of the year.
USA coach Pia Sundhage was also listed, along with France's Bruno Bini, for the women's coach award, though Japan's Norio Sasaki was the clear frontrunner after leading his country to its first ever World Cup title.
The 2011 awards will be voted for by national team coaches and captains, as well as a panel of soccer journalists.
The winners will be presented at a ceremony in Zurich on Jan. 9.