Fifa and France Football have revealed the names of the three candidates who will be up for the award.
Ronaldo, 29, is the favourite for the award after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League last season, scoring 17 times to set a new record for most goals scored in the competition in one campaign.
The former Manchester United attacker has scored 50 goals in 46 total appearances in 2014 so far, and could claim the award for the third time after being named the winner over Barcelona's Messi in 2008 and 2013.
Messi himself is in contention to scoop the accolade for a record fifth time after netting 44 times in 48 games for the Catalan giants, and has added weight to his case in recent weeks after becoming the all-time top scorer in both La Liga and the Champions League.
The 27-year-old also made the World Cup final with Argentina this past summer, before falling 1-0 to Germany in extra-time, but failed to win any major trophies with Barca last season under the since-departed Gerardo Martino.
German goalkeeper Neuer, however, remains the dark horse for the award, having made the shortlist for the first time after helping Joachim Low's team defeat Messi and his international teammates in the World Cup final in Brazil.
The 28-year-old won the domestic double with Bayern Munich last season, and could become the first keeper since Lev Yashin in 1963 to be voted the world's best footballer.
The winner is set to be announced on January 12 at the Fifa Ballon d'Or Gala, with the likes of Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm missing out on podium spot.