The nominees for the award are selected by France Football, while the voting is done by group of international journalists with no more than one per country. The winner will be revealed on December 3 in Paris.
Modric, coming off a year which saw him win the Champions League with Real Madrid and lead Croatia to the World Cup final, is seen as a strong possibility to break the hold Messi and Ronaldo have on the award.
The pair have won every Ballon d’Or since 2007, when Brazil legend Kaka won it while featuring for Milan. Messi and Ronaldo have each won five over that decade, and have been so dominant in the voting that only other person has finished second over that span – Andres Iniesta in 2010.
However, Modric won UEFA’s Player of the Year and FIFA’s the Best award, and is arguably the favourite heading in.
Mohamed Salah, who was also nominated for UEFA Player of the Year and The Best awards, also made the list after his record-breaking season with Liverpool.
He’s joined by a trio of his Liverpool team-mates – Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker.
Modric has plenty of company from Real Madrid among the nominees, with Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco and Los Blancos newcomer Thibaut Courtois picked for the shortlist.
Kylian Mbappe, who is favourite for the Kopa Trophy for the best player under the age of 21, also made the list.
Premier League record-breakers Manchester City are also well represented, with Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne among those selected.
Other nominees include Uruguay strike duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Antione Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Jan Oblak.