Football's governing body in Europe published the trio of candidates, which had been reduced from an original list of 10 selected by journalists from UEFA member countries.
Ribery was one of four players from Champions League winners Bayern Munich, hoping to challenge the established top two names in European football.
Messi won the inaugural award two seasons ago while his Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta claimed the prestigious honour 12 months ago.
The Argentinian helped Barcelona win the Spanish League Championship last season, and he picked up the European Golden Shoe award in the process thanks to 46 La Liga goals.
Frenchman Ribery was part of a Bayern team to complete the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup.
Portugal's Ronaldo, meanwhile, netted 34 league goals for Real Madrid and
was top-scorer in the Champions League with 12 goals.
The award will be presented on August 29 when the draw for the group stage of the Champions League is made in Monaco.
Those in the original list of 10, who failed to make the top-three, finished in this order:
4th: Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)
5th: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munchen)
6th: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munchen)
7th: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
8th: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munchen)
9th: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St Germain)
10th: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)