The 33-year-old Bayern Munich winger first won the trophy in 2020 and is now seeking a second accolade, facing competition from the 34-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward, who has won the award six times, and 29-year-old Salah, who stars for Liverpool and has never won the award.
Portugal international Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time winner of the award in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, and who lines up for Manchester United after three seasons at Juventus, was left out of the final three for the first time since 2010, when Messi won and Iniesta and Xavi were in the next places.
The Best trophy replaced the former FIFA World Player of the Year award, created in 1991 and which between 2010 and 2015 was awarded in conjunction with France Football magazine's Ballon d'Or.
The finalists for The Best for female player of the year were also revealed, with Spain's Jenni Hermoso and Alexia Putellas and Australia's Sam Kerr vying for the award, won in 2020 by Great Britain's Lucy Bronze.
The winners will be revealed at a virtual ceremony on 17 January.