Messi is looking to be the first four-time winner of the award. Also nominated were Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta. Messi and Rolando have been among the finalists in four of the last five years.
Messi, 25, piled up a European-best 82 goals in this calendar year for his Barcelona professional team and Argentina's national team.
Ronaldo, 27, a Portuguese native who plays for Real Madrid, won, the FIFA Player of the Year honor in 2008 but finished second to Messi in 2009 and 2011.
Iniesta, a 28-year-old from Spain who teams with Messi for Barcelona, was the Player of the Year runner-up in 2010. He's already won the 2012 UEFA Player of the Year honor, with Messi and Ronaldo finishing tied for second.
Barcelona Coach Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho are the finalists for Coach of the Year, FIFA said.
U.S. players Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach and Brazil's Marta are the finalists for women's soccer Player of the Year.
Marta is a five-time (2006-10) winner of the award, finishing second to Japan's Homare Sawa last year.
Morgan, with 24 goals in 26 games, and Wambach, with 23 goals in 27 matches this year, helped the United States win a third consecutive Olympic gold medal this summer in London.
Pia Sundhage, who recently left the U.S. coaching position to take a similar position for her native Sweden; France's Bruno Bini and Japan's Norio Sasaki are the finalists for women's Coach of the Year.
The awards are to be announced Jan. 7