Lionel Messi, Franck Ribery and Cristiano Ronaldo were on Monday shortlisted for this year's Ballon d'Or, football's world governing body FIFA and sponsors France Football magazine said.
Barcelona forward Messi has already won the title four times but seems less of a hot favourite this year after an injury-hit season.
French winger Ribery was part of a Bayern Munich team that claimed an unprecedented treble of Champions League, German title and German Cup, as well as the European Supercup.
Real Madrid's Portugal striker Ronaldo won the 2008 Ballon d'Or and has been tipped to win the award this time around.
The Ballon d'Or will be presented in Zurich on January 13.
Ribery's former Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes is up against ex-Manchester United supremo Alex Ferguson and Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund) in the male coach of the year nominees.
Ralf Kellermann (VfL Wolfsburg), Silvia Neid (German national team) and Pia Sundhage (Swedish national team) are the selected trio of coaches for women's football.
Nadine Angerer (Germany), Marta (Brazil) and Abby Wambach (USA) are the three three candidates for the FIFA Womens' Player of the Year award.