Barcelona forward Messi, who has already won the title four times, is regarded as the outsider of the three this year because of a injury-hit season.
But the Argentina international has continued to be prolific since being awarded the 2012 prize, leading Barca to another La Liga title with 45 goals and his country to a place at Brazil 2014.
Ronaldo is favourite for the prize after scoring 34 goals in the 2012/13 Primera Division season and terrorising defences in Spain, Europe and in guiding Portugal to World Cup qualification this term.
Ribery is in contention for another prestigious award after being named UEFA's best player in Europe for the 2012-13 season, in which he helped Bayern Munich win the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup.
Gareth Bale did not make the cut from the 23-man longlist despite scoring 26 goals for Tottenham last term before becoming the world's most expensive player when he joined Real Madrid for £85m in September.
The winner will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich on January 13, 2014.
The 23-man list was compiled by the FIFA Football Committee and a group of experts from France Football and announced on October 29.
The nominees were confirmed after a voting process which was open to the captains and head coaches of the men's and women's national teams of FIFA's 209 member associations as well as to international media representatives selected by FIFA and France Football.
Ferguson, who retired following 26 years as Manchester United boss, is nominated for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football award alongside another former boss, Jupp Heynckes, who led Bayern Munich to the Champions League title.
Jurgen Klopp, whose Borussia Dortmund lost the all-German final to Bayern, is the third nominee.
Five-time FIFA's Women's Player of the Year Marta of Brazil is shortlisted for the 2013 award alongside 2012 winner Abby Wambach of the United States. Germany's Nadine Angerer is the third player on the shortlist.
The three nominees for the FIFA Puskas Award for the 'most beautiful goal of the year' were also announced.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's acrobatic volley for Sweden against England in November 2012, Nemanja Matic's volley for Benfica against Porto in Portugal's Liga Sagres and Neymar's shot for Brazil against Japan in June's FIFA Confederations Cup are the contenders.