The Primera Division stars are still in the running to win the second edition of the individual award after receiving the most points in a vote among sports journalists
The trio gained the most points in a vote among 53 sports journalists representing each of the European football governing body's member associations.
Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo came in fourth in the election, while Barcelona's Xavi, who finished second in last year's edition of the award, completed the top five.
The remaining three players will now go into a deciding vote in Monaco during the Champions League group stage draw on August 30.
The individual award, created in partnership with European Sports Media (ESM), recognizes the best player, irrespective of his nationality, playing for a club within the territory of a UEFA member association during the previous season.
Messi won the inaugural edition of the accolade in 2011.