Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery were on Monday named the final contenders for the World Footballer of the Year award by the ruling body FIFA.
The Portugal and Real Madrid winger Ronaldo won the prestigious award in 2008, while the Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi has taken the prize in the past four years.
Ribery, who plays for France and treble winners Bayern Munich, won the European Footballer of the Year award in summer.
The World Player is announced at the Ballon d’Or gala on January 13, based on a ballot involving national team coaches and captains, and journalists.
FIFA extended the deadline for the vote until after the World Cup play-offs in November, and Ronaldo’s four goals for Portugal against Sweden made him the top favourite for the award.
He has scored 67 goals for Portugal and Real Madrid, while Messi is currently sidelined with injury and on 45 goals.
Ribery has less goals, but was instrumental in Munich’s last record-breaking season in which they won the Champions League, Bundesliga and German cup for the first time in one campaign.
By now Munich have won a record 10 Champions League matches in a row and are unbeaten in 40 league matches in Germany, also a record.
Jupp Heynckes made the coaching shortlist after leading Munich to the treble in his final season before giving way for Pep Guardiola. The other candidates are Juergen Klopp from Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund, and Sir Alex Ferguson, who quit in summer after 27 years in charge at English champions Manchester United.
Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, Brazil’s five-time award winner Marta and Abby Wambach of the US are the women’s candidates, and women’s team coaches on the shortlist are Germany’s Silvia Neid, Ralf Kellermann from treble winners Wolfsburg and Sweden’s Pia Sundhage.
Sweden and Paris St Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not make the Ballon d’Or shortlist, but is the top contender for the Puskas Award for the best goal, nominated for his bicycle kick strike for Sweden in a friendly against England.
Ibrahimovic competes against long-range goals from Brazil’s Neymar and Benfica Lisbon’s Nemanja Matic.