Benayoun seems precisely like the player Villa are thought to be pursuing, a creative midfielder with Premier League experience that can slot in behind Darren Bent and provide some service from the center of the pitch. There's no mention of what the terms of the deal would have been (whether loan or, if an outright purchase, the fee involved) but the explicit mention of the wage bill leads me to believe that it was the deciding factor. Benayoun's fee likely would have been in the £3-£4 million range (or not too far off what the club is rumored to be paying for Alan Hutton) but his wages are in the £75,000/week range which would have -by my estimation at least- made him Villa's second highest paid player.
This news is likely to upset few Villa fans worried that the club is being unnecessarily tight with their finances. Since we don't know the specifics of the hypothetical deal it's impossible to say for certain, but I'm not inclined to entirely disagree. Look at the players that have left so far; both Youngs, Downing and Makoun are all very hefty cuts from the wage bill even after considering the additions of Shay Given and Charles N'Zogbia. There's also the small matter of the club's net transfer profit of between £23-£25 million and a lucrative sponsorship deal with Genting to consider; it's not time to panic, but it is perhaps time to start being a bit more skeptical (and I'd like to stress the part where I say "a bit") about what we're hearing from the manager and the board.
I still think we'll see Villa bring in another player or two before the window closes tomorrow, but anyone expecting a big splash is going to be sorely disappointed. Hutton seems a given at this point and I'd guess we bring in a midfielder, but it's either going to be someone unproven from a lesser league or the attacking midfield version of Alan Hutton. If Villa were in the market to make a splash at the position, one would have to think they'd have taken Chelsea up on their offer.