While Ronaldo, a three-time winner, has been ever-present in the final three since the award was created in 2011, Van Dijk makes his first appearance after helping Liverpool win the Champions League title last season.
Van Dijk was voted both the Premier League Player of the Season and the Players' Player of the Year, and was instrumental in Liverpool's sixth European Cup triumph.
Two-time award winner Messi was the leading scorer in both La Liga (36 goals) and the Champions League (12 goals) last season but his Barcelona side fell in the semifinal stage to Liverpool, who overcame a three-goal deficit in the second leg to advance.
Ronaldo, who has won five Champions League titles, did not fare too well in Europe in his debut season with Juventus. The Italian side lost in the quarterfinals to Ajax Amsterdam. However, he helped Juve seal their eighth successive league title with 21 goals and was voted the Serie A's Most Valuable Player.
The award will be presented at the Champions League group stage draw ceremony, which takes place in Monaco on Aug. 29.
The three were selected by a jury of 80 coaches whose teams competed in last season's Champions League and a journalist from each of UEFA's 55 member associations.
Lucy Bronze, Ada Hegerberg and Amandine Henry have been nominated for the women's award. All three play for French side Lyon, who won the treble last season.
Hegerberg was the first recipient of the women's Ballon d'Or last year.