The trio emerged as the leading candidates from an initial 32-player list for the award after a round of voting from 53 journalists representing each UEFA member association.
Messi has been installed as the early favourite to defend the crown he won a year ago following his record-breaking goal scoring season for Barcelona.
The Argentina international scored an incredible 73 times in 60 games for Barca, beating Gerd Muller’s 39 year old European record.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, played an instrumental role in ensuring Real Madrid beat Barcelona to the Spanish title for the first time since 2008, with Los Blancos breaking new ground in terms of points gained and goals scored.
Iniesta was named the Player of the Tournament after Spain’s historic triumph at Euro 2012 earlier this summer.
Juventus’ Andrea Pirlo was polled the fourth highest amount of votes, followed by Spain midfielder Xavi in fifth and La Roja captain Iker Casillas in sixth.
Chelsea’s Champions League final hero Didier Drogba was seventh in the voting, while former teammate Petr Cech was tied eighth with Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.
Germany international Mesut Ozil made up the top 10 after another impressive season at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The top three will now go into a deciding vote in Monaco during the Champions’ League group stage draw on August 30.