(Reuters) - World governing body FIFA named Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery as the three nominations from a 10-player shortlist for the Ballon d'Or award on Monday.
Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi has won the prestigious award, formerly called FIFA World Player of the Year, for the past four years, while Real Madrid's Ronaldo topped the poll in 2008.
Despite not winning any silverware last season Portuguese Ronaldo is favourite to end Messi's reign as officially the world's best player when the results are announced on January 13.
The 28-year-old has 25 goals for Madrid this season and bagged a stunning hat-trick as Portugal beat Sweden in a World Cup qualifying playoff to reach next year's finals in Brazil.
Messi scored 56 times for Barcelona last season, helping the Catalans win the Spanish title while Ribery helped Bayern Munich win the Bundesliga and the Champions League.
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, Bayern Munich's Jupp Heynkes and Borussia Dortmund's Juergen Klopp form the shortlist for the Coach of the Year award.
Paris St Germain's Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic failed to make the final Ballon d'Or shortlist although he is in contention for the Puskas Award for the "most beautiful goal of the year" for his long-range overhead volley against England.
The nominees for the various awards were confirmed after votes were received from captains and head coaches of member associations of FIFA and international media representatives selected by FIFA and France Football magazine. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Justin Palmer and Pritha Sarkar)