The reason was purely financial, with the Lisbon club failing to agree terms on his salary.
Cavani had agreed a three-year deal worth €10m-per-season, with Benfica planning to split payments over six years.
However, the Uruguayan’s brother and agent, Walter Cavani, then asked for the wages to be paid normally over three years.
Benfica then left the negotiating table, abandoning their pursuit of Cavani, who had been due in Lisbon next week.
Cavani’s future is now again in question with his salary demands deterring many interested clubs.
From Cavani to the new Cavani
The Eagles will now focus on Cavani’s countryman, Darwin Nunez, who they wanted in addition to Cavani.
However, Benfica believe they can convince him to join them with the promise of a prominent place in Jorge Jesus’ squad.