Messi, who has won the prestigious prize for the last three years running, has netted a remarkable 82 goals this calendar year, just three short of the record set by Gerd Mueller back in 1972.
It is the sixth time in a row that Barcelona’s Messi has been named among the last three nominees and the Argentine can become the first player to ever win the award for four straight years.
Real Madrid forward Ronaldo, who has already netted 19 goals this season, won the prize in 2008 after having also been named on the shortlist in 2011, 2009 and 2007.
Iniesta, who won the Uefa award for the best player in Europe for 2011-12 back in August, was on the shortlist in 2010 and 2009 but is yet to win the prize.
The Spain midfielder is the only one of the three nominees who has won a World Cup and two European championships.
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola, Vincente del Bosque and José Mourinho have been shortlisted for coach of the year award, the same line-up as 2010, which the Portuguese manager won.