Modric is tipped to end Messi and Ronaldo's decade-long dominance of the Ballon d'Or, with the victor of that award announced later in the year.
Modric took the honour following another success-laden season with Real Madrid, in which he helped the club to another Champions League victory for a third consecutive season.
Messi's strike faces competition from Gareth Bale's overhead kick in the Champions League final, while Ronaldo's acrobatic effort against Juve in the quarter-finals and Salah's goal in Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Everton in December 2017 are also among the 10 candidates.
Marta won her first women's Federation Internationale de Football Association player of the year award since 2010 after leading Brazil to Copa America Femenina glory.
"I hope that Luka will be the best player in the world", Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic told AFP.
"I'm still not realising how good a year I had collectively, individually, and I'm very proud for everything I achieved this year and it will be remembered forever".
Ronaldo, who left Madrid in the offseason to join Italian champion Juventus, was knocked out of the World Cup in the round of 16 with European champion Portugal.
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However, Portugal's last 16 exit to Uruguay in Russian Federation and Ronaldo's failure to score in the semi-finals or final of the Champions League has opened the door for Modric.
He said: "If next year I'm in the final three, it will be good".
Modrić was also named in the Fifa Fifpro World XI.
Despite scoring in each of his two appearances in Russian Federation, he bowed out with the Pharaohs bowed at the group stage with three defeats.
Indications suggest Real Madrid midfielder Modric is the favourite, having also won the World Cup's Golden Ball and UEFA's Player of the Year award.
In other awards, Thibaut Courtois from Belgium won goalkeeper of the year, Reynald Pedros best women's coach and Marta women's player of the year.