Modric, a World Cup runner-up with Croatia, beat Juventus' Ronaldo and Salah to win the Federation Internationale de Football Association prize last month after Messi was surprisingly left off the final three-man list.
Ronaldo and Messi have won the award between them for the last 10 years.
Ronaldo, now at Juventus, won the Champions League for the third season in a row with Madrid, while De Bruyne inspired Manchester City's Premier League and EFL Cup double before a strong World Cup showing.
Eden Hazard gives Chelsea another player in the running after starring alongside De Bruyne at the World Cup, with England's Golden Boot victor Harry Kane also included.
The Ballon d'Or is separate from FIFA's own world player of the year awards, which was won by Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric.
The Spain worldwide, who was named in the FIFA FIFPro World 11 last month, has not been included in the latest group of five nominees for France Football's individual prize.
The victor of the prestigious award organised by France Football magazine will be announced on December 3.
Liverpool Vs Manchester City
It would put a lot of confidence in us. "What I want to see is the team alive, and we are alive". Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy lavishes praise on his current manager Pep Guardiola .
Liverpool's Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino and Uruguay's rugged defender Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid also got the nod.
Two goalkeepers are also among the first 15 - Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Real Madrid and Liverpool and Brazil stopper Alisson Becker.
Kylian Mbappe is third-favourite after winning the World Cup with France at the age of 19, with 6-1 odds.
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne are contenders while Liverpool's formidable top three Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were all included.
Remember the criteria for the Ballon d'Or are: the players' performances during the calendar year, their talent and fair play, and their achievements throughout their career.
The victor will be announced on December 3.